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Hill climbing

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Hill climbing

Old 06-26-17, 10:04 PM
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Hill climbing

I have a Diverge DSW (not full road bike), 48/32 chainring, 11-32 cassette.

I know its leg power and how fit you are, but there is this one tiny hill, only about 2mins long that I have to be in 32front 32 rear and my cadence isnt close to 90, it's probably grinding rate around 60. Most of the hills around here I can get away with 32front, 28 or 25 rear and around 90 cadence.

Those of your who are on pure road bikes with 52/36 and 11-28......how much harder is it using the 36 front ring and only having access to 28 cassette?

Last edited by boshk; 06-26-17 at 11:47 PM.
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Old 06-26-17, 10:19 PM
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28.6% harder, based on gear ratios.
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Old 06-26-17, 10:26 PM
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Compared with 32-32, 36-28 is like shifting up 3 or so gears in back. Very considerable.
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Old 06-26-17, 10:27 PM
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You might as well ask, "how long is a piece of wood?".

There's no answer, but you might try that combination on a hill, then your low gear and get a sense of the difference (for you).

Hill climbing uses a variety of techniques depending on your "sprint" power, brute strength, and ability to spin at a cadence under load. It also depends on how long you can maintain peak power. I prefer to attack shorter hills, hitting them at high speed, and pushing a higher gear until cadence and speed drop, then downshifting progressively hopeing I run out of hill before I run out of gears.

OTOH - I don't try to charge longer hills, knowing that if I run out of gas before the top, I'm facing a tough climb the rest of the way.

So, as long as the only wall you ride is that short one, odds are that over time, a combination of more strength, and longer endurance at peak power will combine to get you over it before you crap out. later you may be climbing it in your 2nd low gear and saving low for longer/steeper walls.

The only thing I can tell you is that over time, you'll find your local terrain magically getting flatter, and be wondering where all those walls disappeared to. (OTOH - if you lay off the bike a while, they grow back)
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Old 06-26-17, 10:32 PM
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It's easier to climb on my carbon road bike with 34:28 low ratio than it is on my older aluminum road bike with a supposedly easier 30:26 low ratio.

Stiffness and weight matter.
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Old 06-26-17, 11:31 PM
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For a 2' effort, I would probably stay in a bigger gear and get out of the saddle. Have you tried that? It's a nice way to change things up a bit.
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Old 06-26-17, 11:49 PM
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Originally Posted by HTupolev
Compared with 32-32, 36-28 is like shifting up 3 or so gears in back. Very considerable.
So basically, if I jumped on a road bike and did the same small hill climb, I'll probably end up walking it?
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Old 06-26-17, 11:56 PM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY
You might as well ask, "how long is a piece of wood?".

There's no answer, but you might try that combination on a hill, then your low gear and get a sense of the difference (for you).

Hill climbing uses a variety of techniques depending on your "sprint" power, brute strength, and ability to spin at a cadence under load. It also depends on how long you can maintain peak power. I prefer to attack shorter hills, hitting them at high speed, and pushing a higher gear until cadence and speed drop, then downshifting progressively hopeing I run out of hill before I run out of gears.

OTOH - I don't try to charge longer hills, knowing that if I run out of gas before the top, I'm facing a tough climb the rest of the way.

So, as long as the only wall you ride is that short one, odds are that over time, a combination of more strength, and longer endurance at peak power will combine to get you over it before you crap out. later you may be climbing it in your 2nd low gear and saving low for longer/steeper walls.

The only thing I can tell you is that over time, you'll find your local terrain magically getting flatter, and be wondering where all those walls disappeared to. (OTOH - if you lay off the bike a while, they grow back)
Thanks, I know it's a combination of a lot of things including bike specs.
I tried attacking it fast then shifting down at appropriate time to maintain cadence of at least 80 but I always end up grinding hard on lowest gear, only for a minute or so.
I was just curious if I jumped on a road bike with only a 36-28 combo, how I would even be able to stay upright and not end up walking it.
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Old 06-27-17, 12:00 AM
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Originally Posted by boshk
So basically, if I jumped on a road bike and did the same small hill climb, I'll probably end up walking it?
Possibly, or you might have the strength to push it up, at least part way.

Anyway, this doesn't have to be theoretical. You probably have similar "road bike" gearing on your bike someplace higher on your cassette. It use a gear chart to find the nearest match, and give it a shot.

BTW - you might try climbing with a higher gear once in a while, seeing how far you can take it before running out of gas. If you do this kind of climb on some kind of regular basis, you'll find that you get farther each time, and eventually over the top. You don't have to go straight to the gear you asked about, try it in your 2nd low for a while, then your 3rd low.
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Old 06-27-17, 12:06 AM
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^That's great advice.
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Old 06-27-17, 12:20 AM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY
You might as well ask, "how long is a piece of wood?".
He didn't ask "How long is a piece of wood?", he asked "How much longer is a 12.86" piece of wood compared to a 10" piece of wood?" As f4rrest pointed out, it is 28.6% longer.
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Old 06-27-17, 12:22 AM
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I have heard there are some steep hills in Hong Kong. Something that was a real breakthrough for me that I discovered as a young adult was that if I pulled the toestraps tight, I could stand up and pull up with my returning leg and that all of a sudden I had far more power. That was a complete game changer. (Of course, if I stopped and forgot to loosen the strap ahead of time, I fell over.) Now there are clipless pedals. They are far easier to get you foot into and you can always pull your foot out but they have that same advantage. If you think this might work for you, research the various types. There are many threads here in Bike Forums on the subject.

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Old 06-27-17, 12:36 AM
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Originally Posted by boshk
So basically, if I jumped on a road bike and did the same small hill climb, I'll probably end up walking it?
Hard to say.

How much are you currently doing to boost torque when you're bottomed out? Are you spending the climb out of the saddle, for instance? (And this gets complicated for a lot of reasons, i.e. how beneficial it is to get out of the saddle depends a lot on how a bike handles out of the saddle. Which depends mostly on steering geometry factors like trail, and on weight distribution.)

Also, if there are extremely large differences in bike weight, it'll have some effect. Partly because it affects handling, but also because you just plain need lower gears when there's more gravitational resistance.

But 32-32 versus 36-28 is quite a large difference. As FBinNY says, you could try roughly simulating it with your current bike. If you're in the 32T chainring, getting into a rear cog of around 25T would give you similar gearing to 36-28 (or maybe around 26T if you have 700x30mm tires on the Diverge and would be on 700x25mm tires on the road bike).

Last edited by HTupolev; 06-27-17 at 12:47 AM.
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Old 06-27-17, 12:39 AM
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Originally Posted by tomato coupe
He didn't ask "How long is a piece of wood?", he asked "How much longer is a 12.86" piece of wood compared to a 10" piece of wood?" As f4rrest pointed out, it is 28.6% longer.
Not to be argumentative, but this is what he asked:


Those of your who are on pure road bikes with 52/36 and 11-28......how much harder is it using the 36 front ring and only having access to 28 cassette?

So, harder than what?
For them, if they had lower gearing, which the question implies they don't?
Harder for them on their bikes compared to the OP on his, which is an impossible, meaningless comparison?
Or what?

In any case, comparisons between different riders riding different bikes up different hills is worse than comparing apples to pomegranates. Equally pointless is trying to compare your climbing ability to that of strangers. Especially with no reference to benchmarks. For all I know, the OP's little wall might be not much more than a bump in the road, or it might be the Manuyunk Wall.

And, while you may not like my rhetorical answer, I did later point out that the OP probably had similar gearing on his own bike, so he could compare the two for himself. And, in later posts, I offered practical advice on ways to improve his climbing strength for these kinds of short steep hills.

By comparison, your only contribution was a critique of my post, which I doubt did then OP much good.
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Old 06-27-17, 01:14 AM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY
Possibly, or you might have the strength to push it up, at least part way.

Anyway, this doesn't have to be theoretical. You probably have similar "road bike" gearing on your bike someplace higher on your cassette. It use a gear chart to find the nearest match, and give it a shot.

BTW - you might try climbing with a higher gear once in a while, seeing how far you can take it before running out of gas. If you do this kind of climb on some kind of regular basis, you'll find that you get farther each time, and eventually over the top. You don't have to go straight to the gear you asked about, try it in your 2nd low for a while, then your 3rd low.
All good advise mate. I'll try it on my next outdoor ride
. Maybe try more out of saddle and higher gear.

Last edited by boshk; 06-27-17 at 08:59 AM.
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Old 06-27-17, 04:04 AM
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Originally Posted by boshk
...my cadence isnt close to 90, it's probably grinding rate around 60. Most of the hills around here I can get... around 90 cadence.
This is what I don't understand; the idea of climbing a challenging hill at a 90+ cadence. Except when out of the saddle, yes, lower than 60 starts to be a struggle, and sure, cruising along at 90-115 is nice, but 60-80 is pretty normal for climbing, and not what I'd call "grinding" at all in that context. It's just work. Try it more often, you may come to like it.
Along the lines of what @FBinNY was saying, try this: on those hills you normally take at a cadence of 90, try doing a little work instead and take them in the big ring. You'll probably discover that it's not as hard as you think to get over them MUCH faster. Stop fretting over cadence and relying on low gears to maintain it - so you can save that 32-32 for real emergencies.

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Old 06-27-17, 05:29 AM
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I was in your shoes once and what I learned is that you have to shift before the hill. When I'm on group rides now, I see a lot of people doing what you're doing.. they wait until they hit that wall on the hill to downshift, but by then it's too late. Your gear combo may not be ideal for you climbing, and I would do what another poster suggested and try climbing in a higher gear once and a while and see how you do. As an example, on occasion I'll climb on the big ring and a smaller gear on the cassette.

Don't charge the hill in a high gear hoping to get momentum to carry you up and then shift down when you can't pedal. Instead, try and remain consistent when you ride. So many times, I see people sprinting on the straights and down hills and they may not realize it, but they're burning all of their hill climbing energy.. Then, they hit the hill.. and the wall and can't maintain any of their momentum, start panicking and downshifting.. but by then it's too late. Focus on a comfortable cadence and try to maintain that instead. I don't have a cadence meter.. but anything works, count on your own, count your pedal strokes as if it were musical notes. 1,2,3,4 - 1,2,3,4 and if you start to spin too fast or too slow, shift until you find that cadence.
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Old 06-27-17, 05:54 AM
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Originally Posted by f4rrest
28.6% harder, based on gear ratios.
Depends - it's a Diverge and he might have some larger diameter tires that effectively change the gear ratio vs 23/25mm tires on a road bike.

Originally Posted by caloso
For a 2' effort, I would probably stay in a bigger gear and get out of the saddle. Have you tried that? It's a nice way to change things up a bit.
+1. Also, I don't like to sit and spin, so on a short-ish climb, I sometimes attack and see if I can crest it before I burn my matches. I call it the Fat Man's Gambit.
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Old 06-27-17, 07:08 AM
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Another thing about cadence on hills and effort: once you've established a level of serious effort that you're prepared to make, KEEP making that effort, and don't wait until you get over the top to shift. Shift to a smaller cog as soon as your cadence starts to go up (I tend to keep it in the 65-85 range on climbs, 55-70 out of the saddle). Then, if the grade increases again, you can shift back if you really need to. This is especially helpful on ascents that have their steepest bits toward the beginning. If the profile is a grade that increases sharply toward the end, you really ought to be prepared to mash a bit there, and if you've gotten your heart rate way up spinning all the way there, getting out of the saddle, or any other sudden drop in cadence can be very difficult.

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Old 06-27-17, 07:24 AM
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I did the Diabolical Double again last Sat. 125 miles 16,000'+ climbing. Had plenty of time to contemplate climbing technique with many hills above 14% Sitting and spinning @ 80 rpm is something only the fittest riders with 34-30 34-32 can pull off. 60 rpm is more realistic. If you train to stay out of the saddle for extended periods it can be very enjoyable and helps stretch the legs. I am able to stand for almost 2 miles comfortably.
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Old 06-27-17, 08:09 AM
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Originally Posted by boshk
Those of your who are on pure road bikes with 52/36 and 11-28......how much harder is it using the 36 front ring and only having access to 28 cassette?
It will be harder but if you maintain your cadence it will also be over sooner. I often find for short hills it doesn't really matter whether I go hard or easy they hurt about the same.
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Old 06-27-17, 08:29 AM
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Sometimes it depends on the engine. I actually shift to a higher gear and stand and mash on the hills.
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Old 06-27-17, 08:46 AM
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Originally Posted by caloso
For a 2' effort, I would probably stay in a bigger gear and get out of the saddle. Have you tried that? It's a nice way to change things up a bit.
This. Stand up and crank it over the top.
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Old 06-27-17, 08:59 AM
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There's also the middle ground: Stay seated but shift your position rearward a bit, thus engaging your glutes. This gives you some of the mashing ability standing does, without being as intense. For some, a good compromise.
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Old 06-27-17, 09:08 AM
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Guess I still have a lot to learn about cycling and I guess I misunderstood some of the information that is floating around.

I always thought maintaining cadence of around 80-90s was the best, most efficient for legs, better for knees etc etc
I took it as, you should maintain 'that' cadence throughout, flats, descents, climbs, which is why I stated I have to grind.....purely because my cadence gets down to 50-60 just on that tiny stretch of hill.

Anyway, will try all the different techniques you guys have said.
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