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Getting dropped on hills

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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Getting dropped on hills

Old 05-05-21, 09:41 AM
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LarrySellerz
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Getting dropped on hills

Hey guys, I found this fast group ride last week and these dudes just fly up hills, its kind of ridiculous. I consider myself a decent climber but clearly I need to step up my game. There is a nice 4 mile hill near my house, 7% grade, very popular with cyclists. Should I just do that everyday? Maybe do repeats on it? Or should I focus on sprinting up shorter hills like on the group ride. I'm also considering throwing money at the problem and buying a nice fixed gear bicycle, im riding an entry level hybrid now and she is fast as **** but im still getting smoked on the hills. How should I go about training? thanks
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Old 05-05-21, 09:47 AM
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Originally Posted by LarrySellerz View Post
Hey guys, I found this fast group ride last week and these dudes just fly up hills, its kind of ridiculous. I consider myself a decent climber but clearly I need to step up my game. There is a nice 4 mile hill near my house, 7% grade, very popular with cyclists. Should I just do that everyday? Maybe do repeats on it? Or should I focus on sprinting up shorter hills like on the group ride. I'm also considering throwing money at the problem and buying a nice fixed gear bicycle, im riding an entry level hybrid now and she is fast as **** but im still getting smoked on the hills. How should I go about training? thanks
So, are you riding with others that are on dedicated road bikes? If so, your hybrid doesn't stand a chance. A fixie won't help either. If you want to go on group rides with fast riders, you'll need to equip yourself better to be able to keep up. Then, you can do hill repeats, hill intervals, Hill sprints, etc to get faster.

I made getting dropped on climbs an art form. What eventually helped me was to start the climb in the front of the group and hopefully, as I slid to the back, the climb ended before being dropped.
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Old 05-05-21, 09:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Snotrub View Post
So, are you riding with others that are on dedicated road bikes? If so, your hybrid doesn't stand a chance. A fixie won't help either. If you want to go on group rides with fast riders, you'll need to equip yourself better to be able to keep up. Then, you can do hill repeats, hill intervals, Hill sprints, etc to get faster.

I made getting dropped on climbs an art form. What eventually helped me was to start the climb in the front of the group and hopefully, as I slid to the back, the climb ended before being dropped.
This is a time honored tactic for us non-climbers.

As far as training goes, hill repeats is the way to go. You don't need any equipment other than a stopwatch or timing function on your computer. Set a benchmark time, and then set out to beat it. Rinse and repeat.
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Old 05-05-21, 09:54 AM
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"equip yourself better" = carbon road bike. Can be used if you have a shop check it out and it's the right size.
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Old 05-05-21, 10:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
"equip yourself better" = carbon road bike. Can be used if you have a shop check it out and it's the right size.
Yeah, if this is in your budget, do it. My carbon is only about 4 pounds lighter than my aluminum road bike, but it feels so much faster, even on climbs.
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Old 05-05-21, 10:27 AM
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To improve your climbing strength in a hurry, there's nothing like hill intervals.

Go to that 4-mile 7% grade. Warm up first, then alternate 3-minute hard effort climbing with 1-minute recovery easy climbing.

Repeat those until your speed drops off.

Do this twice per week.

Also, leave the boat anchor hybrid at home and ride a decent road bike with adequate gearing (50-34 chainrings, 12-28 or wider cassette).
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Old 05-05-21, 10:30 AM
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Yes you need to do the hill more often than the times you ride with the group. Or at least a similar hill. But not every day.

If you are a masher trying to go up that hill in a high gear, then learn to spin easier gears up the hill. That will leave you with more energy near the top of the hill. You may not be with the rest of the pack, but you'll be able to catch up quicker and will have some energy left to do it with.

Reducing weight of any sort will help you up the hill. My current bike is only five pounds lighter than my previous bike. When I got it, I'd be riding along at a fast speed and wonder where all those hills were that use to tire me on a climb. Then I'd realize I just climbed them.

Single speed bike won't do you any good for riding with a group. Different speeds you travel at, accelerations and climbing will demand a specific gear ratio and cadence unique to you to ride with the group without getting overly drained of energy.

If you get anything, get the sort of bikes the members of your group are riding. Or find another group.

Last edited by Iride01; 05-05-21 at 01:19 PM. Reason: spelling -- of nor or
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Old 05-05-21, 11:14 AM
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Going on group rides with a hybrid? You aren't going to keep up.

Also, you didn't say anything about your weight. Hill climbing is for skinny people.
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Old 05-05-21, 11:18 AM
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Second oldest catchphrase in cycling: "to get good at hills, ride hills"
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Old 05-05-21, 11:47 AM
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Originally Posted by blacknbluebikes View Post
Second oldest catchphrase in cycling: "to get good at hills, ride hills"
I thought it was "Don't ride upgrades, buy upgrades", (thanks GCN)
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Old 05-05-21, 12:04 PM
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A really good drill that will help your climbing is find a hill that takes at least 2-3 minutes to climb. Ride up it in your Vo2 max zone as soon as you gone about 2-3 minutes, turn around and ride down quickly, letting your legs spin for recovery and when you get to the bottom, repeat the process. Do 3 intervals, 5-8 minutes of recovery after the 3 and then do another 3
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Old 05-05-21, 12:27 PM
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Originally Posted by colnago62 View Post
A really good drill that will help your climbing is find a hill that takes at least 2-3 minutes to climb. Ride up it in your Vo2 max zone as soon as you gone about 2-3 minutes, turn around and ride down quickly, letting your legs spin for recovery and when you get to the bottom, repeat the process. Do 3 intervals, 5-8 minutes of recovery after the 3 and then do another 3
Is 3 minutes just an optimal point, or is it harmful to huff and puff to the top of the (relatively steep for me) hill (~ 15 minutes) before coming down?
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Old 05-05-21, 12:31 PM
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1. Pitch the hybrid and get a road bike (not SS)
2. Ride more hills
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Old 05-05-21, 12:32 PM
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Originally Posted by MinnMan View Post
Going on group rides with a hybrid? You aren't going to keep up.

Also, you didn't say anything about your weight. Hill climbing is for skinny people.
Im 230-235 lbs this is probably hurting me
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Old 05-05-21, 12:33 PM
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Originally Posted by LarrySellerz View Post
Im 230-235 lbs this is probably hurting me
Originally Posted by datlas View Post
1. Pitch the hybrid and get a road bike (not SS)
2. Ride more hills
3. Lose some weight
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Old 05-05-21, 12:41 PM
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Well then, there are excellent prospects for improved hill climbing that have nothing to do with gear.
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Old 05-05-21, 12:54 PM
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If getting dropped *on* the hills bothers you I suggest riding slower and getting dropped *before* the hills.
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Old 05-05-21, 01:11 PM
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Yeah, you're not a climber and you never were "decent at climbing". Decent climbing for fat guys like you and I (welcome to the 235lb club...at least we're not 250 amirite?) is not stopping halfway on that 4.5% 1.1 mile straight climb.

Nothing like riding with some people who are built like a 7th grade girl yet still put out more power than you do to "humble" you, eh?

There's a dude I follow on Strava who just started cycling last year. Over the winter he started doing TrainerRoad workouts and me and some other guys were commenting on his workouts....cause the wattages he was putting out...were...e-bike like. Anyway he gets out when the weather gets nice and does 7 repeats on a local climb...all 7 were in the top 20 all time for the segment. His last repeat on the climb was a full 75 seconds faster than my PR (feeling good, warmed up, start of the ride effort for me) so yeah...you'd know it if you resembled anything close to a "climber".

Do you think you're fast too? Go pin on a number. When I was dropped on the second lap of my first crit...and this was Cat 3/4/5 people I had an inkling of what "fast" was. I know exactly what fast isn't...me and I know what a climber isn't...me.

Good job getting out there, enjoy the ride!
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Old 05-05-21, 01:11 PM
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Originally Posted by LarrySellerz View Post
Im 230-235 lbs this is probably hurting me
A couple years ago I dropped 30 pounds over the winter and when spring rolled around and I went on my first group ride I was absolutely astounded at the difference in my climbing.

As a somewhat larger rider I've always had to redline it on climbs just to have a passing chance of not completely losing the group, so I've just developed the habit of going max effort for climbs. Turns out when you weigh a lot less, that same amount of effort makes you climb like you're on an escalator.

Then I gained all that weight back during pandemic, so here we are again.
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Old 05-05-21, 01:24 PM
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Originally Posted by LarrySellerz View Post
Im 230-235 lbs this is probably hurting me
This is the most likely source of the problem. Many of the folks who sprint past you on the hills probably weigh 150 lbs or less.

A new bike, etc, can only do so much, and even though I know someone who gets KOMs on climbs who weights something like that, he is extremely fit and tall.
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Old 05-05-21, 01:30 PM
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We don't mean to discourage the OP. getting out and challenging oneself with faster riders and hills is fantastic.

Keep doing it and you'll drop some weight and get better.

And have a good time.
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Old 05-05-21, 01:36 PM
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Originally Posted by guachi View Post
If getting dropped *on* the hills bothers you I suggest riding slower and getting dropped *before* the hills.
That's how I always did it.
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Old 05-05-21, 01:38 PM
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Originally Posted by ksryder View Post
Then I gained all that weight back during pandemic, so here we are again.
Are you really me posting from a different account?
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Old 05-05-21, 01:51 PM
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There's a reason why the mountain stages of the Grand Tours are generally won by guys like Pantani, and not won by guys like Magnus Backstedt. We 'gravity enhanced' folks just have so much more mass to lift that we start out at a huge disadvantage. The good news is that the more you ride, the better you'll be at it. AND as long as you don't overcompensate for the calories burned, you will lose some of the weight, and simply losing that weight will make you faster up hills.

On one of my routes, there's a series of small hills that take between 2 and 10 minutes to climb. On shorter rides, I will sometimes really go hard on those, and then go easy to the next one. You can do that by going up and down the same hill, but for me, a series of hills was a lot more fun, because I got someplace. The other thing is on my long weekend rides, I started by riding a 3 mile, 7.5% average hill that takes 25-35 minutes (for me) every other week, then every week. Then I started doing a longer climb, then I added another shorter climb to that. I got really good - for me.

A good, well fitting, well set-up road bike is really great! It could help you keep up with the group before you get to the base of the climb without burning too many matches, so you'll have more left for the climb. But it's not a panacea. It will help, but it won't make you fly up the hills. That's up to you.
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Old 05-05-21, 02:16 PM
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Climbing is mostly about a high sustainable power to weight ratio. At 235 lbs an unusually fit rider might be able to pull that weight up a short hill with the fast group. Like putting a heavier, more powerful engine in a car. But soon that big engine will burn up most of the gas and will have to reduce speed to make it to the top. Same thing with a heavy rider.

As for "a fast hybrid" vs an average road bike for climbing, I give the road bike an advantage here, even when air resistance isn't as important. The right tire on a hybrid can bring rolling resistance down close to a road bike, But the road bike is likely lighter and has less air resistance even at reduced speeds.
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