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I need to get better on the hills

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Road Cycling ďIt 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.Ē -- Ernest Hemingway

I need to get better on the hills

Old 08-31-23, 03:12 PM
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Irony of ironies. Looking through my garage today, I have two spare rims that fit this bike. One currently has a 25 tooth cassette and the other has a 28 tooth. Apparently either one of those wheels would have been a better choice for that event. If I only knew then.... I guess it's no wonder why this bike with this configuration feels so fast on the flats and down hill grades.
Originally Posted by john m flores
Can you be more specific about "out of gas"? Were your legs starting to burn or where you running out of breath? Or both?

Part of learning to ride hills is learning how to meter your effort - to get right to the edge of blowing up without blowing up. Modern methods rely upon HR and power meters but even before those devices riders learned how to listen to their bodies and adjust their effort accordingly.
OK, as I said, I did NOT feel like I was out of gas at that point. For me, "out of gas" is when I can no longer maintain a given effort level and have to dial it back. I was still doing pretty good at that point, just hating life. I made the call to dismount, not because I couldn't stay on the bike, but I felt that staying on the bike would use more energy than walking. Bear in mind, I was still planning for that 10 mile run coming up after the bike route. Now, I was out of gas around mile 8 of the run.
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Old 08-31-23, 03:21 PM
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Originally Posted by VegasJen
Irony of ironies. Looking through my garage today, I have two spare rims that fit this bike. One currently has a 25 tooth cassette and the other has a 28 tooth. Apparently either one of those wheels would have been a better choice for that event. If I only knew then.... I guess it's no wonder why this bike with this configuration feels so fast on the flats and down hill grades.
Excellent! With the 28, you'll have have a much better climbing gear!

OK, as I said, I did NOT feel like I was out of gas at that point. For me, "out of gas" is when I can no longer maintain a given effort level and have to dial it back. I was still doing pretty good at that point, just hating life. I made the call to dismount, not because I couldn't stay on the bike, but I felt that staying on the bike would use more energy than walking. Bear in mind, I was still planning for that 10 mile run coming up after the bike route. Now, I was out of gas around mile 8 of the run.
Can't help you there - that's what climbing's all about!
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Old 08-31-23, 03:22 PM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski
True, but she seemed interested in getting a HRM, which would be of benefit in helping to evaluate her pacing strategy etc.

I use a Polar optical arm band monitor, which I find more comfortable than a chest strap and just as accurate - when worn above my elbow.
And they're WAY cheaper than any power meter.
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Old 08-31-23, 03:35 PM
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Good news on the heart rate monitor front! I have had a member reach out and offer a lightly used one. Just need to arrange the deal.
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Old 08-31-23, 03:37 PM
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OP can also shave her head, wear a bandana and act like a pirate. She might get better on the hills, or not.

On the other hand, if she did those things, she'd just be an Average Joe.

I'm cracking myself up today!

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Old 08-31-23, 03:38 PM
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You can also get a tri watch with a HRM in it. Check out DC Rainmaker's suggestions.

https://www.dcrainmaker.com/
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Old 08-31-23, 04:03 PM
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If I were deeply committed to improving in this area, here's what I'd do:

- Find a close friend, relative, or co-worker and agree to be accountable to this person. Share my specific goals and strategies, and ask that he or she follow up on a frequent and consistent basis to check my progress


- Check my FTP on a smart trainer. (Because I own a TACX trainer, I can do this anytime. OP might have to find a friend with one.) The FTP tests on these machines are not considered extremely accurate, but they give a pretty good estimate.

- Weigh myself, and do the simple math to establish my power-to-weight baseline. FWIW, mine is actually around 2.6 W/kg. Yeah... I don't expect Jumbo-Visma recruiters to be calling me.

- Discover my max HR through any of a variety of tests (not just an estimate based on age and gender). The max HR itself is not meaningful, but it establishes training intensity zones.


- Set an achievable goal for power-to-weight improvement, through a combination of increasing power and decreasing weight. I would re-check my FTP once per month, and weigh myself once a week. Any more often than this is probably counterproductive. My goal timeframe would be six months or a year, and I think increasing W/kg by .3 in that timeframe is realistic. If most of the increase comes from weight loss, perhaps .5 would be achievable. (I'm speaking hypothetically here. I have not actually been deliberately working to improve this, because I'm focused on other fitness goals.)

- I would not jump on some extreme diet. Keto, paleo, grapefruit and celery, fasting, name the fad... skip all these. I'd use a tracking app to count how many calories I've been taking in, and how many grams of carbs and fat. Then I'd reduce my daily intake of each by 10 to 15% and sustain this consistently for months, or years if necessary. This might be possible through removal of one or two items (in my case, soda pop). After three weeks or so, if I found I'm always hungry and unable to work out, I'd carefully return to my previous caloric intake, but no more. In any week when life gets in the way and makes me unable to keep with my workout regimen, I'd go back to 10% reduced intake. I would not allow myself a cheat day or pause the program during holidays or vacations, because these things can quickly undermine lots of progress. I would permit myself one guilty pleasure, and just make sure it fits with these cutbacks.

- Work out two to three times a week at ~70% of my max HR for at least 45 minute duration--an hour would be better. This is for fat burning.


- Work out once or twice a week with an interval program: 5 to 10 minute warmup / 3 minutes at moderate intensity, then 30 seconds or so in the anaerobic zone (at or near max HR)... repeat 5 times initially, then gradually increase to 6, 7, and eventually 10 times / 5 minute cool down.

- Once a week, a tempo workout: minimum one hour at 85% of max HR.

Not saying this would be easy. On the contrary, it's sure to be tough (it certainly would be for me). But I'll be a monkey's uncle if anyone who follows all of the above does not get considerably faster at racing bicycles.

Please note that the BF member known as Broctoon is not a professional fitness coach. In fact, he has no formal training nor certifications in exercise physiology. He's just a guy who's picked up a few things over the years. Always consult your doctor before starting an exercise regimen.

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Old 08-31-23, 04:05 PM
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Originally Posted by seypat
OP can also shave her head, wear a bandana and act like a pirate. She might get better on the hills, or not.

On the other hand, if she did those things, she'd just be an Average Joe.

I'm cracking myself up today!
That reminds me, I need to renew my subscription to Obscure Sports Quarterly!
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Old 08-31-23, 04:19 PM
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I need a 14-28 French-pattern freewheel to replace the venerable 14-24 I'm riding.

I'm using an Apple iWatch & Strava for monitoring, max HR ~ 170BPM topping the climbs I can pedal to the crests. Only started back on the road bike (23# half-century old Motobecane Grand Record running tubies) early last June. Been maybe 12 years since I regularly rode before The Move that brought us to this Driftless (read Hilly!) region of WI.

Back there 14-24 was entirely appropriate. I think a 14-28 is better suited to riding this bike here & now. Anyone have a French-threaded 14-28 freewheel they want to sell me, let me know!

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Old 08-31-23, 04:41 PM
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Back to the topic of climbing. I did a 34 mile ride here today in familiar territory. Because I live in a pretty big valley, we have very few steep grades. One grade I ride frequently is only about a 4-5* grade for a little more than a quarter mile. For aerobic conditioning, I tend to stand up and mash getting up this hill. Even so, I never come off my 53 tooth front gear and I'm usually somewhere in the middle of the cassette. And compared to the 4.1 from Saturday, I can generally maintain around 12mph on this one. Granted, it's a much milder grade and shorter climb than what I did last Saturday, but I was able to do a 34 mile ride today, under those conditions, in 2:03 as compared to 2:26 in the hills last weekend.
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Old 08-31-23, 04:59 PM
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Originally Posted by VegasJen
Back to the topic of climbing. I did a 34 mile ride here today in familiar territory. Because I live in a pretty big valley, we have very few steep grades. One grade I ride frequently is only about a 4-5* grade for a little more than a quarter mile. For aerobic conditioning, I tend to stand up and mash getting up this hill. Even so, I never come off my 53 tooth front gear and I'm usually somewhere in the middle of the cassette. And compared to the 4.1 from Saturday, I can generally maintain around 12mph on this one. Granted, it's a much milder grade and shorter climb than what I did last Saturday, but I was able to do a 34 mile ride today, under those conditions, in 2:03 as compared to 2:26 in the hills last weekend.
Mash up that hill, roll back the bottom, mash up the hill, roll back to the bottom. Lather, rinse, repeat. Call it "Hill Intervals". Throw that in in the middle of the ride.
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Old 08-31-23, 05:11 PM
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Originally Posted by genejockey
Mash up that hill, roll back the bottom, mash up the hill, roll back to the bottom. Lather, rinse, repeat. Call it "Hill Intervals". Throw that in in the middle of the ride.
That does sound like a plan. Being so short, I could probably do five intervals. That particular hill is right at the 10 mile mark so it would be 10 miles there, do five intervals, then 10 miles home. May not impress some hard core cyclists, but that would be a pretty good workout for me.
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Old 08-31-23, 05:59 PM
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Originally Posted by genejockey
Mash up that hill, roll back the bottom, mash up the hill, roll back to the bottom. Lather, rinse, repeat. Call it "Hill Intervals". Throw that in in the middle of the ride.
I'm contemplating something like that too, yes. Stretch I found last w/e drops ~ 300' in 2,100' so what, 1:7 pitch over .4 mile?

Uphill that'd be a struggle for me with the gearing I have now, why I think a 14-28 be better suited to that kinda challenge than the 14-24 that came with the bike 51 years ago back in 'flatland'. Downhill's a buzz as long as I stay on the brakes and stay watchful for sand, gravel & large sticks.

MB catalogue from that era says my rig was supplied with 40/52 Stronglight crank set, 14-26 freewheel, 27 x 1-1/4" alloy rims.
Mine came w/ 40/52 front, 14-24 freewheel, 23mm 27" (0.90" 700c) Mavic rims, tubular tires.

I think a 14-28 will work fine w/o changing derailleur as long as I stay away from the big wheel up front. Just need to locate one that I can screw on (French threaded Campy rear hub) for the routes around these'ere parts.

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Old 08-31-23, 10:57 PM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski
I use a Polar optical arm band monitor, which I find more comfortable than a chest strap and just as accurate - when worn above my elbow.
Tangent: Is HRM worn on upper arm generally more accurate than on lower arm?
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Old 08-31-23, 11:12 PM
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Originally Posted by VegasJen
That does sound like a plan. Being so short, I could probably do five intervals. That particular hill is right at the 10 mile mark so it would be 10 miles there, do five intervals, then 10 miles home. May not impress some hard core cyclists, but that would be a pretty good workout for me.
That could be an excellent workout. Plenty of time to warm up and cool down at moderate effort. Do the hill repeats at or near max effort (you donít need a HR monitor to tell you when youíre there). If five is all you can do initially, thatís not bad. Try to gradually increase the number of intervals over the coming weeks.
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Old 09-01-23, 05:27 AM
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Originally Posted by SoSmellyAir
Tangent: Is HRM worn on upper arm generally more accurate than on lower arm?
Good question.

For a few years I used a Garmin chest strap thing on a rowing machine, found the numbers it gave me seemed to correlate to what I was feeling during use. Tried it for swimming laps, didn't work so well though purportedly waterproof. My thinking at the time was water's movement altered sensor proximity to my chest.

Traded an early M1 chip MacBook Pro for an iWatch a couple years ago, watch does all kinds of neat things telling me about what my body's up to. During the Pandemic I found it useful monitoring blood oxygen content. Had opportunity a couple of times to check it against a more sophisticated system (local clinic's finger-mounted sensor) and pleasantly surprised to find it within 1% of the value the finger-mounted sensor was getting. So I'm inclined to trust the watch's more basic heart beat numbers; I wear it on my left wrist most of the time.

It'll do ECG too - which I don't find of much use - but that requires having my right-hand index finger in contact w/it, making any other hand operations impossible for the duration. Supposed to be able to detect a-fib telltale signals as well. I have yet to see anything telling me I'm prone to such, which is some comfort.

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Old 09-01-23, 06:36 AM
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Originally Posted by seypat
OP can also shave her head, wear a bandana and act like a pirate. She might get better on the hills, or not.

On the other hand, if she did those things, she'd just be an Average Joe.

I'm cracking myself up today!
LOL. Arghhh!
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Old 09-01-23, 06:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Broctoon
That reminds me, I need to renew my subscription to Obscure Sports Quarterly!
LOL. What channel is the Ocho on FIOS?...
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Old 09-01-23, 06:42 AM
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Originally Posted by SoSmellyAir
Tangent: Is HRM worn on upper arm generally more accurate than on lower arm?
When I first bought my Polar OH1 (updated current version now called Polar Verity Sense), I wore it on my forearm above the wrist. It worked fine, but after reading DCRainmakerís online review I moved it up above my elbow and it has never missed a beat in 3 years. (pun intended). Itís a while since I read his review, but IIRC he found it more consistent when worn on his upper arm, particularly for cycling with vibration from the bars. So I just copied him and found it more comfortable and less likely to get knocked around while riding.

I did also initially compare my OH1 with a Polar chest strap and the results were identical. I did this several times before I stopped using my chest strap.

I also wear a Fitbit wrist tracker and the latest version I have is fairly good too (much better than my older Charge 3) but can sometimes read low during sweaty HIIT sessions. So I wouldnít trust this on the bike. The Polar OH1 never has this problem regardless of how sweaty it gets.

When my Polar OH1 eventually dies (presuming it does) I will definitely replace it with the newer version.
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Old 09-01-23, 06:50 AM
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With the current gearing OP's cadence would have been around 30 rpm. Increasing from 23T to a 28T won't make matters much better.

Studying the course profile in advance and pacing a bit slower leading up to these short walls is a better strategy than hoping a few more teeth will help. Then when the 1-2 minute wall appears, you have the anaerobic reserves to use. Nonetheless, OP would benefit from something more like 1 to 1 or lower.

Personally, I find 40 rpm to be a reasonable lower limit for balance on 15-20% grades. At 17% with OP's gearing, 80 rpm would take me 800 watts. Aint' happening. Those short walls are always full grunt territory, nobody is spinning up them
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Old 09-01-23, 07:38 AM
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Originally Posted by GhostRider62

Personally, I find 40 rpm to be a reasonable lower limit for balance on 15-20% grades. At 17% with OP's gearing, 80 rpm would take me 800 watts. Aint' happening. Those short walls are always full grunt territory, nobody is spinning up them
Agreed. Where the slightly lower gearing really helps is in managing your effort on the less extreme parts of a climb. If you are already grunting out of the saddle before you get to the wall itís likely to be game over.

I survive the steepest climbs as long as I can keep turning over the pedals without going over 350W for more than a couple of minutes. Often thatís around 50 rpm in a 1:1 gear on steep climbs and more like 40 rpm on extreme steep.
Very short climbs (under a minute duration) I can hold 500W, but I wouldnít do that on a steep section of a longer climb.

I laugh at people who say you will spin out in a 1:1 gear when climbing. Yeah sure if the gradient is < 5%, but certainly not above 10% .
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Old 09-01-23, 07:50 AM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski
When I first bought my Polar OH1 (updated current version now called Polar Verity Sense), I wore it on my forearm above the wrist. It worked fine, but after reading DCRainmaker’s online review I moved it up above my elbow and it has never missed a beat in 3 years. (pun intended). It’s a while since I read his review, but IIRC he found it more consistent when worn on his upper arm, particularly for cycling with vibration from the bars. So I just copied him and found it more comfortable and less likely to get knocked around while riding.

I did also initially compare my OH1 with a Polar chest strap and the results were identical. I did this several times before I stopped using my chest strap.

I also wear a Fitbit wrist tracker and the latest version I have is fairly good too (much better than my older Charge 3) but can sometimes read low during sweaty HIIT sessions. So I wouldn’t trust this on the bike. The Polar OH1 never has this problem regardless of how sweaty it gets.

When my Polar OH1 eventually dies (presuming it does) I will definitely replace it with the newer version.
Since you're plugging the Polar HRM, I might as well hype one of their watches. Here's DC Rainmaker's review on the Pacer Pro. If you read the wrap up, it sounds like the watch for her. It's what I wear/use. The training app(Polar Flow) is very useful as well. Too bad they quit making bike computers.

https://www.dcrainmaker.com/2022/04/...th-review.html
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Old 09-01-23, 08:21 AM
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Originally Posted by GhostRider62
With the current gearing OP's cadence would have been around 30 rpm. Increasing from 23T to a 28T won't make matters much better.
You donít consider going from 28 to 34 gear inches a big difference? Itís almost 22% lower ratio. I think this would be a game changer.
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Old 09-01-23, 08:29 AM
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Originally Posted by VegasJen
That does sound like a plan. Being so short, I could probably do five intervals. That particular hill is right at the 10 mile mark so it would be 10 miles there, do five intervals, then 10 miles home. May not impress some hard core cyclists, but that would be a pretty good workout for me.
There you go. And when it's too easy to do just 5, go harder or do more repeats.
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Old 09-01-23, 09:42 AM
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I haven't done it, but I've heard it mentioned in the past: If you're cool with doing hill intervals and have access to a parking garage nearby, that would be a way to get in a quicker workout. Lots of short, 8-10% ramps with a flatter part in between could help build power.
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