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How to prepare for 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

How to prepare for hills

Old 08-01-06, 03:24 PM
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How to prepare for hills

As a Florida rider I have little experience riding hills. I want to take a trip to ride mountains soon, but I dont want to be caught totally off guard. How can prepare for hills before going? Strength training?
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Old 08-01-06, 03:32 PM
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Get someone to crush your nuts with pliers while riding a trainer at or above your AT. In your off time, work on learning to like the taste of your own vomit.

Originally Posted by CTAF
As a Florida rider I have little experience riding hills. I want to take a trip to ride mountains soon, but I dont want to be caught totally off guard. How can prepare for hills before going? Strength training?
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Old 08-01-06, 03:39 PM
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Get comfy riding into headwinds. Learn to love them. Conquer the headwind.
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Old 08-01-06, 03:40 PM
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I don't share your problem out here in SoCal, but I have read some advice on this topic before. Here are some things you can try:

(1) Head winds can create the same effect as climbing. Find some wind and ride into it.

(2) Highway on ramps can be used to perform hill repeats.

(3) Steady state intervals where you mash a gear or two higher than you normally would ride will help as well.
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Old 08-01-06, 03:41 PM
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a good headwind mimics a hill fairly well. seek out headwinds if you can.
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Old 08-01-06, 03:42 PM
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Strength is useful for short hills, but long hills are more about endurance: being able to ride at your AT or LT for long periods of time.
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Old 08-01-06, 03:44 PM
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Originally Posted by johnny99
Strength is useful for short hills, but long hills are more about endurance: being able to ride at your AT or LT for long periods of time.
Excatly. That's why doing some 10-15 min steady state intervals at or near your LT will really help with climbing.
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Old 08-01-06, 04:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Granny
Get someone to crush your nuts with pliers while riding a trainer at or above your AT. In your off time, work on learning to like the taste of your own vomit.

LOL

I'm really laughing here....really...
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Old 08-01-06, 04:13 PM
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Originally Posted by blue_nose
Excatly. That's why doing some 10-15 min steady state intervals at or near your LT will really help with climbing.
15 minutes is still a short hill for me. If you're talking about Tour de France type mountains, you should expect to be climbing for an hour or more at a time.
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Old 08-01-06, 04:29 PM
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Originally Posted by timmhaan
a good headwind mimics a hill fairly well. seek out headwinds if you can.
we've had headwinds so bad that i've had to use my granny on a DOWNHILL!!! i kid you not!
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Old 08-01-06, 04:30 PM
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oh.... and i was into lifting weight before i started riding (well.. still am into lifting.. cuz i'm an all around kinda fitness gal!) but i know that helped! i was climbing hills practically as soon as i had my first road bike!
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Old 08-01-06, 04:38 PM
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I primarily ride in a very hilly area and have always wondered how to equate distance in the hills to distance on flat terrain? IE: say I ride with an average of 7% grade for 10 miles, what distance at a 0% grade would that equate to?
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Old 08-01-06, 04:39 PM
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Old 08-01-06, 04:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Granny
Get someone to crush your nuts with pliers while riding a trainer at or above your AT.
I'll try that... will it boost my testosterone a lot?
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Old 08-01-06, 04:44 PM
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another little trick you can do is apply your brakes lightly while on flat ground. It doesn't really simulate a hill, but it's definately more pedalling resistance to overcome, which will help you to get stronger.
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Old 08-01-06, 04:49 PM
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Originally Posted by johnny99
15 minutes is still a short hill for me. If you're talking about Tour de France type mountains, you should expect to be climbing for an hour or more at a time.
Understood. Keep in mind that the OP's stated that he has no experience climbing, so you have to start training somewhere. This type of interval training will still help with longer climbs, as it will help you recover from steeper sections of a long climb.
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Old 08-01-06, 04:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Everman
I primarily ride in a very hilly area and have always wondered how to equate distance in the hills to distance on flat terrain? IE: say I ride with an average of 7% grade for 10 miles, what distance at a 0% grade would that equate to?
they don't equate.. both are different... it would be like comparing apples to oranges.... (i ride in hilly areas too.... my elevation gain so far this year is 231,889 feet (over 3911.01 miles)
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Old 08-01-06, 04:55 PM
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Originally Posted by timmhaan
a good headwind mimics a hill fairly well. seek out headwinds if you can.
I don't understand that at all.

The 2 big differences are:
1. Standing or pulling down on the handlebars so as to apply a ton of pedal pressure doesn't help a great deal in wind, while tucking down or riding a bent bike helps tons.
2. Going up hills forces a strenuous effort to keep moving, whereas you can always just go slower into winds.

I agree with climbing stairs to simulate hard hills. I'd guess 2 steps at a time is more useful than single step.
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Old 08-01-06, 05:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Everman
I primarily ride in a very hilly area and have always wondered how to equate distance in the hills to distance on flat terrain? IE: say I ride with an average of 7% grade for 10 miles, what distance at a 0% grade would that equate to?
Depends on your speed. If you use a granny gear on the hills, you might be burning less calories than hammering on the flats.
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Old 08-01-06, 06:31 PM
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Originally Posted by CTAF
As a Florida rider I have little experience riding hills. I want to take a trip to ride mountains soon, but I dont want to be caught totally off guard. How can prepare for hills before going? Strength training?

Strength training doesn't help much, if it was, I wouldn't have much trouble climbing at all. Sadly, the best way I've found to prepare for hills is to ride hills.

If you are able to adapt this parachute for use on a bike, it might be a good way to approximate what pulling up a long hill is like.
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Old 08-01-06, 06:57 PM
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Originally Posted by john bono
Strength training doesn't help much, if it was, I wouldn't have much trouble climbing at all. Sadly, the best way I've found to prepare for hills is to ride hills.
SHACK. there are some good ideas here, but i haven't found that any of them work for preparing me for hill climbing. i'm like you in that i live in a flat area. i take trips to find hill work to do. the one thing i've found is that, day to day, climbing hills gets easier. so if you are going someplace with this in mind, go with enough time to spend a week or two of hill climbing EVERY DAY. you're gonna be amazed at how quickly your times improve up the same hill over the course of a week. having said that, i do like the advice about working at or just below your LT. i'm most efficient at climbing when i hold my heart rate 5-10 below my LT and my cadence about 10 lower than normal. i can climb all day like that, and i out-climb most of the people in my races. i find it also changes my metabolism as well

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Old 08-01-06, 07:14 PM
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I recently moved from TN to Houston. Headwinds do mimick hills to some extent, but their really is no subsitute for the real thing. Especially a long acent with varying slopes. People around here talk about training in parking garages....I haven't cared to attempt that one just yet.

The irony is that when I lived in TN I used to think how nice it would be to have a 5 mile steady, flat route to pace myself on. Now that is all I have and it is really boring.
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Old 08-01-06, 07:25 PM
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I don't know, but I hear Landis uses this technique - ask him.


Originally Posted by godspiral
I'll try that... will it boost my testosterone a lot?
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Old 08-01-06, 07:35 PM
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Originally Posted by CTAF
As a Florida rider I have little experience riding hills. I want to take a trip to ride mountains soon, but I dont want to be caught totally off guard. How can prepare for hills before going? Strength training?
There is no substitute for climbing.

1. Move to a hilly region.
2. Take EPO or testosterone
3. Make sure you are properly geared (triple, or double with a 27 cassette) and just prepare not to go real fast.

Getting good at climbing takes time and work. "Simulations" rarely work and only build a false sense of confidence. I'd say go with the right gears and practice breathing and relaxing. Pace yourself going up them. Lose weight.

If all else fails, take EPO. Really.
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Old 08-01-06, 07:59 PM
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Riding in a headwind does not simulate climbing a hill at all. A headwind just creates more resistance. Riding in your liitle in back/big ring in front continually will do the same as a headwind. The problem with training for hills is the overal effect of gravity. On really steep grades if you slow enough gravity will take hold and you either need to unclip quickly or you fall clipped in - in a headwind you can always just slow down and unclip. On that steep grade you're fighting the grade and gravity. Your legs start to burn, your heart hiits it's max, you can't get enough air, and you have 30 more minutes to climb in the same state. You can't just stop and coast - it's so steeep you don't have time to stop spinning/unclip/put foot down. Riding into a headwind will not prepare you to ride hills.

To get better at riding hills you must ride hills. period. In the winter I practice on my trainer in toughest gear possible and just push it at 55-60rpm for 10-20 minutes/rest spin 5 min/ repeat. Carmichael tapes can show you how. But once I get outside I still need to hit the hills. Climb. Recover. Climb. I find my speed increases slowly but I also concentrate on my recovery and getting ready for the next climb.
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