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Hill Climbing…Easy, hard or what’s a hill

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Hill Climbing…Easy, hard or what’s a hill

Old 04-26-07, 01:12 PM
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Hill Climbing…Easy, hard or what’s a hill

I thought it would be interesting to get a hill climbing discussion started.

Soooo, What impacts tandem hill climbing? Is it about the bike, team or other?
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Old 04-26-07, 04:44 PM
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I think a combination of bike and team. When we first got on the tandem the hills were brutal. I was not in great cycling shape although I attended spinning class frequently. We were constantly trying to improve our team work. Our bike is a Raleigh Coupe and is a pretty much middle of the road bike. It has good gearing and and 700 x 26 tires but is fairly heavy. As we kept on training for hill climbing we got better and better. We went OOP and while it improved our speed it made it difficult for my stoker to stand at the same time as me so we found a compromise. We spin in low gear and take turns standing on the steepest grades. This is working out well for us. By the time we did Solvang in March, we found we were passing as many singles as were passing us. Last week we climbed the steepest and longest grades we have done yet and passed many half bikes on Honey Run. Some even said we shamed them as we went by. I am now 6 months into cycling and we try to attack hills on every ride. As my conditioning improves they get easier. In a year or so we will probably upgrade to a better bike and then watch out.
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Old 04-27-07, 03:54 AM
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In the words of Lance, It's not about the bike.

As long as the bike changes gear reliably and is not a complete noodle, it makes diddly squat difference on a long hill whether you're on a $1000 second hand Trek or a $10,000 carbon beauty.

Riding the expensive on is nicer, but IMO speed difference is more about the riders than the bike. For example a reasonably fit captain and stoker of 140kg on a 20kg bike (heavy!) could put out say 300W and 200W on a decent ten minute hill, giving 500/160 = 3.125 W/kg. On a 10kg bike W/kg = 3.33

An recreational team would probably put out significantly less watts, e.g. 250 and 150 = 400W, which if they're the same weight on the light bike would be 400/160 = 2.67W/kg. Fact is as well that the recreational team would probably weigh a few kg extra, firther tilting the advantage towards the fitter team, explaining why it's not about the bike.

Second factor other than brute power is tandem-specific riding skill. In my limited experience, this is all about knowing when to sprint a hill and when not to. On a single bike I find it's easy to switch between standing and sitting and keep rythm, even on steep hills. But on a tandem it's more difficult. I prefer only to stand and sprint if I know we can make it right over the top of the hill without blowing up. This is more difficult than on the single as you have to guestimate or communicate with your team mate to make sure he/she is also keen to sprint the hill.

I don't find standing up on the pedals as a team particularly difficult, and think most people should be able to do it with a little practice. Like most things though it's difficult to do really well, as I'd be first to admit I am smoother on my single bike. Recently though we started to do standing sprints from a rolling start on flat roads. That's a lot of fun on the tandem, and will probably help the climbing too.
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Old 04-27-07, 09:17 AM
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If you're looking at really steep hills, for the average non-competitive team, it's about the bike. Gotta have low enough gears.
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Old 04-27-07, 10:01 AM
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Originally Posted by cgallagh
We went OOP and while it improved our speed it made it difficult for my stoker to stand at the same time as me so we found a compromise.
This discussion has been going on over at Tandem@Hobbes for a while. Check it out there.

This season is our first or riding OOP, and it has made a noticeable difference in climbing some of the steep hills we encounter. In particular, it seems like we do a better job of spinning up, and believe it or not, our standing climbs are quite a bit smoother as well. My morning ride today was on the single for the first time in several days, and when I stood on the hills, I missed having my stoker powering the dead spots in my stroke.
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Old 04-27-07, 10:07 AM
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Originally Posted by JanMM
If you're looking at really steep hills, for the average non-competitive team, it's about the bike. Gotta have low enough gears.
This only applies if you have no power. Having ridden just last week with a former semi-pro cyclist and current marathon runner as a stoker, we never even touched the granny. In fact, about 3/4 of the way through the ride, the front derailleur cable broke (I know, I should have carried a spare). I simply set the front derailleur limit screw to hold the big ring and we soldiered on. Had to slog a few hills but still climbed them. Had I been riding with a less powerful stoker, it never could have happened.
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Old 04-27-07, 04:49 PM
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Our experience is that tandem hill climbing performance is all about the total power produced by the team divided by the total weight of the team – just as in road racing. Since we have increased our training mileage, hill work, races and interval training and trending our team weight down, we are passing single riders (much to their dismay) on steeper hills easily where we formerly had to gear down and the singles passed us. On occasion, better cyclists do pass us on the hills, but it is becoming more infrequent.

Also, at higher power to weight ratios, the “inefficiencies” of the team seem to disappear and climbing hills seems like riding on the flat. We need the 8% and greater grades to begin to cause us to struggle and then spin rates and OOP v IP become more important.

Now having said all that, there are timing chain losses, frame flex and differences in bike weights and wheel mass that can bring the bike into the picture but it is small. It is possible that some teams fight each other but again I think that comes down to power as well. If you have more power, the “fighting” diminishes.

For us it is not about the bike, it is about the power to weight ratio of the team. However, we admire other people's tandems, love bling and will continue to pursue it and encourage others to do the same.
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Old 04-27-07, 07:07 PM
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Originally Posted by galen_52657
Having ridden just last week with a former semi-pro cyclist and current marathon runner as a stoker, we never even touched the granny.
Definitely not an average non-competitive team. If you don't have the power to make it up a nasty hill, there is no substitute for a lower gear.
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Old 04-28-07, 07:31 AM
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Originally Posted by galen_52657
This only applies if you have no power. Having ridden just last week with a former semi-pro cyclist and current marathon runner as a stoker, we never even touched the granny. In fact, about 3/4 of the way through the ride, the front derailleur cable broke (I know, I should have carried a spare). I simply set the front derailleur limit screw to hold the big ring and we soldiered on. Had to slog a few hills but still climbed them. Had I been riding with a less powerful stoker, it never could have happened.
No, it applies even if you have plenty of power. You just did not do any steep/long enough hills... IMHO
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Old 04-28-07, 07:45 AM
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Depends on the hill and how long. Riding offroad and we like to have a cadence of around 85 offroad, and most of our climbing is done in 24/28 so we still have the emergency 32 if required. However on one ride I lost 3 bolts out of the granny so we used the middle 36 ring on the front. Did ride the hills in 36/32 at times and at a far lower cadence but we were faster on all parts of the hills.

Then again- how far have you already been- and what do you have to chase. On one long ride we were riding on all the upslopes- let alone hills- in the granny. Then we saw someone about a mile in front of us and just that little bit of extra effort went in. Still used the 24/32 but cadence went back up to 85 and we caught him in 3 hills.
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Old 04-28-07, 10:37 AM
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Hi, Hermes and cranky, yeah, I'd have to agree that it's the power the team puts out, too. Quite a few years ago a friend and I rode up Big Canyon on the Davis DC in the big ring because we totally missed a shift rounding a corner. Since we were pretty much stuck in a high(er) gear and apparently too lazy to fix the issue(I was stoking) we just pressed on and I have to say that is the only time I've passed singles like they were standing still on a hill. Nowadays it's just like it was on that ride we went on...slow and grinding it out in a low gear.
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Old 04-28-07, 11:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Hermes
Now having said all that, there are timing chain losses, frame flex and differences in bike weights and wheel mass that can bring the bike into the picture but it is small. It is possible that some teams fight each other but again I think that comes down to power as well. If you have more power, the “fighting” diminishes.

For us it is not about the bike, it is about the power to weight ratio of the team. However, we admire other people's tandems, love bling and will continue to pursue it and encourage others to do the same.
Our take is a little different. It has taken us almost three years of training and hard riding to get to the point where we are today. It is truth that, although we have been in good shape for as long as we can remember, our "bike" shape continues to improve and our team weight continues to decrease as our climbing ability has improved. However, we think that a great deal of our improvement is also due to teamwork, a commonality of objectives, and lighter equipment (We hope that we didn't lose anyone with that paragraph of terrible English).

When we put down the hamer, we can climb with a ligth all male team that in the flats we just can't keep up with....
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Old 04-29-07, 06:34 AM
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While I think we are pretty good at climbing, I see it is the place where a tandem loses some of it's bennefit. One of the bennefits of a tandem [speedwise] is the reductance of wind drag...at slower uphill speeds [not all uphills are slow enough for this to be an isue]this bennefit is reduced. This is also probably where a teams cooperation...their efficiency, and "skill", is most challenged also.


While I would say in general it is the rider[s].... not the bike. I feel there are many variables here. The fitness...weight and efficiency of each team member, is important. The efficiency of the team as a unit ... is of course another big factor.

One's mental attitude... makes a big difference. Back when I first got my wife into riding [on half bikes] she would really complain about the big hills... she would complain the whole way up. Yet she was often climing hills at a faster speed than her average for the whole ride. Despite this speed... she was defeating herself... all the way up.


Do you dread hills? or go oh boy another hill?

I think the bike does make a difference also. If everything else is the same.. differences in equipment make a difference. {it may not make a enough of a difference for some people to justify though...and I see training as of primary importance.... vs trying to purchace speed..not that "purchasing speed" by itself is bad }

We climb faster on our new tandem than we do with the older one. The new bike is about 10 pounds lighter. If everything else is the same.... that makes some difference. The new bike is stiffer...more efficient. That makes some difference. The frame is stiffer.... I am not specifically sure of the crank arms.. but the larger spined BB spindles... vs the older square taper ones...are noticably stiffer.

In this case our old bike had pretty light wheels so we did not make any gains there with the new bike... but it is a place that changes make a big difference.

Often if the bike feels more responsive... it can coax more out of you... again the mindset is affected. Although I have used it in other ways. like beating pourly trained triathletes... on high zoot machinces... with a moutain bike. Before the race they were actually pointing and laughing... It was quite motivating

For ourselves... I think going from bar end shifters... to STI has helped also. I can now shift while standing... So at the top of a hill when [and if] it starts leveling out.. I can upshift. without sitting.

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Old 04-29-07, 11:30 AM
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I was talking to the DH about this just this morning. I cammuted to work today, he came with me for the ride, both on our half bikes (don't have the tandem yet). It's mostly flat and downhill all the way, all of 7 miles. The last mile is a slow rise, nothing big or steep but my legs too one look at it and told my brain that granny gear was needed and that I wasn't going to make it. I told my brain that there was no way we were going to get off and walk, make no mind.
But when I got to work, I asked the DH if my brain and body MADE it so I didn't do hills well. Do I phyc myself into believing that I can't do it, therefore making it so I can't do it well.
I got up the rise, just at 6mph and got onto the sidewalk so traffic didn't want to mow me down for slowing them up.
We are going to do hills this week. There is a hill near our house that we always used as a gauge to our fitness. I think we are going to go downthe hill, then up the hill then down, 5 minutes rest then up and down again, 6 min rest, lather, rinse repeat. We'll do that until we have to walk the bike up the hill to get home. Then a day rest and repeat. I WILL NOT BE THE DRAG ON THE HILLS!!! I want Tom to someday tell people that he has the best hill stoker on the planet!
What about leg presses to hep strengthen the legs? Anybody think that helps?
Or is it just doing the hills on the bike?
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Old 04-29-07, 04:08 PM
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Ginny: We use weight training to help with strength, but generally only in the off season.

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Old 04-29-07, 05:15 PM
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Here's my contribution:

The no brainer answer to the basic, academic climbing question is: power-to-weight ratio + efficiency wins. But, reality doesn't always bear this out on tandems where the ability to work well together is really tested on the hills and it's that inefficiency that hurts the most. And, yes, equipment can really have a positive or negative impact on climbing performance: whippy frames are a bad thing, as are tandems that have too much trail for teams that don't ride cleanly: it's hard to focus your attention on climbing and ride in a straight line when your bike's front wheel is flopping from side-to-side with each pedal stroke and energy must be expended on upper body strength to counter those turns. Removing weight obviously plays into the power-to-weight ratio story but 'stiffer is usually better than lighter' for teams that have a lot of power/mass vs. the finesse teams.

How does a team make itself climb more efficiently and faster? Through hard work and focused training. Junk mileage will help to maintain your fitness and burn calories, but it won't necessarily lift your performance. To do that you must set measureable goals and push yourselves to the point that it hurts. It sounds trite, but no pain... no gain. If pain ain't your cup of tea, then you'll be in good company with the vast majority of tandem teams, with A-Team riders being in the minority (albeit an admired minority).

----------------------------

For those killing time or looking for some eye strain, here are some other previous thoughts that I have dug up from the archives to answer part of the question asked in the subject line as well as elaborating on some things already interjected into the discussion.

What's a hill? (From a previous post)

Frankly, it's all pretty subjective. My take is fairly pragmatic and variable...

-- A roller is something you can ride in your big chain ring without losing momentum
-- A small hill is something you can ride (aka. hammer) in your big chain ring and largest rear sprocket without blowing out your knees, e.g., staying above 65 rpm
-- A big hill is something that forces you to use your middle ring (you know you're climbing)
-- A mountainous climb will put you in your middle ring and largest rear sprocket from time to time.
-- A crazy steep climb will put you in your alpine/granny ring or have you out of the saddle in your middle or doubles and cursing under your breath.

As you can imagine, what one team might call a small hill another could easily characterize as a mountainous or crazy steep climb using my grading system. This is by design since the subjective aspect of defining how "hard" a given climb might be would obviously depend on your team's fitness, how many miles into the ride you are (and how many there are to go), the altitude, the air temperature, and the purpose of your ride or level of effort being put forth. Moreover, as a team's fitness level improves a crazy steep climb could eventually become a big hill, and so on.

As many cyclists have noted, some of the climbs in the Tour de France don't seem all that "hard" based on the length and gradiant but, then again, there's a huge difference between "climbing a 5% grade" at 8-10 mph vs racing up one at 18-20 mph. Our local rides from our home are devoid of any truly "flat" sections of rural roads and you can easily rack up 2,500 ft in 25 miles, 3,500 ft in 35 miles, etc... and we call this "hilly". The only "mountainous climb" around here is Kennesaw Mountain which takes you from 890 ft to about 1,000 ft in 1.8 miles. 3 Gap in the North Georgia Mountains gets you 5,300 ft in 50 miles and includes two major climbs. One is Neels Gap which comes in two sections: the first is three miles long with an average gradient of three percent, althought the last mile is closer to six percent. After this section there is a little break as the road drops down about one percent for almost a mile then you encounter the second segment: 3 ¾ miles has an average gradient of 5.8 percent with several 8% sections and switchback turns at 10% to 13%. However, it's Wolfpen Gap -- a mere 850 ft -- that you climb in 2.5 miles with an average gradiant of 8% and a few 18% - 23% switchbacks thrown at you that tends to hurt a bit on a tandem. You can see these climbs on this profile of Six Gap: https://www.bike4one.com/rides2004/im...04_profile.jpg

As for crazy steep, those would include Fort Mountain & Brasstown Bald -- neither of which are tandem-friendly -- shown here again on the Tour de Georgia elevation maps (Stage 5): https://www.tourdegeorgia2.com/pdf/07...ge5Profile.pdf

Other ways of categorizing climbs...

Tour de France Categories (general)

4th Category - the lowest category, climbs of 200-500 feet
3rd Category - climbs of 500-1600 feet
2nd Category - climbs of 1600-2700 feet
1st Category - climbs of 2700-5000 feet
Hors Category - the hardest, climbs of 5000 feet+

Michelin Road Atlas Chevrons (subject to various interpretations)

> = greater than 4% or 5%
>> = greater than 8% or 9%
>>> = greater than 12% or 13%



Technique & Power: Something I wrote many years ago....

More fodder on hills, aka my $.02 from an empirical perspective.

I believe that perhaps a good many solo bike riders perceive tandems to
be "slow" going up hills since this is where they pass them (or, in the
case of tandemists reading this post it is where they get passed).
However, why is that? In a good many cases, it's because that's where
the faster solo riders caught up with a slower team on a tandem -- it's
inevitable that they will catch up somewhere and hills are the great
equalizers when it comes to vetting out climbers from non-climbers. In
other cases it's where the faster solo riders who were sucking the rear
wheel of a tandem across the flats or rollers for the past 10 miles
decide "this is where we get off" and assume that the tandem team
intended to "hammer the hill" and couldn't keep up rather than, "we just
happened to be going the same way when you rabbits jumped on our wheel
for a 20 minute tow". In either case, it doesn't represent a model for
comparing "apples to apples" unless the solo riders & tandem team are
truly equals when it comes to riding abilities. The latter supports the
basic claim that, on average, tandems are faster than solo bikes which
-- with the exception of hills -- is probably true when you are talking
about comparing riders of equal abilities. In some cases, it may also be
true for teams of lesser abilities on tandems who hold their own on the
flats & rollers with the hammerheads only to be vetted out when they hit
the hills.

All this gibberish leads me to what I consider to be the three or four
things that have a bearing on the hill climbing efficiency of tandems:

1. The "team's" combined ability to work together efficiently
2. Your particular goal and strategy for each hill climb
3. The management of your power curve to achieve your goal
4. Your equipment

Let me elaborate on these four considerations... NOTE: Assume an
average hill of 6 - 9% grade; not some 15 - 20% monster in the
following scenarios.

(yes, it's after cocktail hour and the Braves aren't playing yet)

1. Everyone who's ridden a tandem has marveled how some teams are just a
lot faster or can ride much longer than their outward appearance or
perceived fitness would suggest. I have a personal philosophy that
suggests tandem performance has more to do with the team's ability to work
together and to manage their combined use of energy to achieve a higher level of
performance/endurance than a simple mathematical model would suggest
(OK, Duh! Not quite an epiphany). Conversely, merely taking two strong
cyclists and putting them onto the same bike will not necessarily yield
a high performance team unless they can blend their riding styles and
energy utilization into a cooperative team - not something that will happen
over night and, with really strong riders, sometimes never. Therefore,
it's the subtleties of tandem riding technique -- a bond between the pilot &
co-pilot, good communication and cooperation, compromising on riding
styles, techniques, and managing the natural performance advantages and
disadvantages of a tandem -- that will yield a team who, ON AVERAGE,
can ride on a par with solo riders of relatively equal or slightly
superior abilities. Hill climbing puts this cooperative effort to the test.

2. Assuming you have a tandem team of "well matched" riding partners
who are riding with solo riders of similar riding abilities, a hill
represents first and foremost a question for the riders approaching it;
what do I hope to accomplish here? This is where the goal and strategy
for each hill climb comes in to play.
-- If your goal is to intimidate you storm at the bottom using your big
gears and the momentum coming off a downhill or the flats & pray you run
out of hill before you run out of power.... In our experience, this
strategy works great on the small to medium size rollers but you eat
crow on a real hill. It is also our experience that this is how most
folks who talk about having a hard time with hills seem to go at it.
-- If your goal is to complete the entire ride and the hill is merely a
feature of the ride, you'll ride out any momentum and then pace yourself
up the hill by shifting into lower gears to sustain your cruising
cadence until you reach a balancing point where a slightly lower cadence
will allow you to motor up and over the hill without undue fatigue.
Again, in our experience, this is what the mature riders who are out to
enjoy themselves and their time together with other tandem teams will
routinely do.
-- If your goal is to dominate the hill and hang with the solos when you
go over the top you make sure you get out in front at the bottom, let
your momentum carry you as far as it can and maintain your cadence by
shifting into lower gears until you reach the balancing point described
in scenario #2 above. During this transition, many of the solo bikes
will in fact pass you -- at least for the moment. Once you hit this spot
you now focus on sustaining your cadence and begin shifting into higher
gears as soon as you begin to see your cadence rising, and so on as you
continue to climb. In fact, what you are doing is working rebuilding
momentum and speed so that as you reach the latter parts of the climb
you catch the riders who spent themselves at the bottom of the hill and
dominate them by accelerating past, even up shifting as you go by. If
you've managed your climb, you'll most likely be in front of your riding
peers when you hit the summit. As for the animals who you couldn't
climb with on your single bike -- WHAT MAKES YOU THINK YOU CAN CLIMB
WITH THEM ON A TANDEM!!! Know your limitations.

3. In regard to managing your power curve, the last three examples
demonstrate a layman's view (my view) of three.
-- The first example is one where the power curve is skewed to the left,
leaving little remaining energy for the top of the climb, i.e., you're
gasping for air as you reach the summit.
-- The second example is one where there is little if any curve; rather,
it is a relatively flat level of effort throughout the climb. You feel a
tremendous amount of achivement as you finish the climb, talk about it
with your stoker, and are able to take a swig of Cytomax without
sneaking it in between breaths.
-- The last example is one where the power curve is skewed to the right;
energy is conserved at the beginning of the climb then gradually
expended in progressively increased amounts throughout the middle and
top end of the climb so that as you reach the summit you are able to
drive over the top. Who cares about taking a drink, it's time to catch
the hammerheads on the descent since we've got the advantage now!!!

4. Finally, there is the equipment and its inherent advantages and
disadvantages relative to climbing and descending. If your rig isn't
laterally stiff then it isn't going to climb like a solo bike. How bout
them tires? Big, cushy 32x622's at 90psi will not transmit power as
efficiently as say 23-622's at 130psi. How well do you manage your
momentum? Frankly, we never worry about being passed on moderate hills
because we'll always be back in the pack once the momentum of the solo
bikes gives way to our tandem team heft. Similarly, our acceleration is
also something that may hold us back when the solos jump off at the
start of a climb or from a dead stop; however, not being discouraged by
the momentary sight of our solo friends fannies, we know once the big
"mo" picks up we'll be right back where we want to be.

Well, that's about all the philosophizing that I can stand and probably
more than you wanted to read (thank goodness for delete keys!!!!). If
you did read all the way through, hopefully it was entertaining and
perhaps made you reconsider how you think about climbing with your
tandem to achieve your goals.

Last edited by TandemGeek; 04-30-07 at 07:39 AM.
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Old 04-29-07, 05:50 PM
  #17  
cgallagh
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I wondered when you would ring in. As always informative. Thanks.

We seem to be somewhere between making the entire ride and just getting over the hill and attacking. We gauge the climb and find our pace, shifting up or down when we can utilize a different gear.
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Old 04-29-07, 05:58 PM
  #18  
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As I look at more and more recumbent bicycle stuff the more I notice that recumbent riders of all types of vehicles singles, tandems, trikes, etc. are just as obsessed with hills as 'wedgie' tandem riders and also feel that their chosen iron cannot climb hills as well as half bikes. Hmmmm. what is it that 'bents and tandems have in common? Could it be that on neither is 'standing' a big part of the technique? Its impossible on 'bents and advanced technique on wedgie tandems and I for one think that it is the ONLY factor in the common wisdom that tandems cannot climb as well as singles. Show me a team that can stand fluently and I bet a weeks pay that they will not find a given hill any more or less a 'problem' than either rider on a single bike! Now this is assuming that ridiculous combinations of hyper fit, super experienced rider and totally out of condition and similarly inexperienced rider are avoided. My GF is very fit, possibly more fit than I since she does more cross training in the gym. Our tandem technique is in its infancy so we avoid standing at all on hills. I ride a folder and because of its squirrelly handling I avoid standing on that too. Hills are tackled by sensible gearing and patience. I don't notice any difference in the effort it takes to get up hills on our tandem or when I climb them on my single. However when I did ride a track style bike with fixed gear back in the day I would shoot up hills by attacking them with a burst of speed and standing as the momentum dropped. I would have passed any tandem team spinning up that same hill as if they were standing still.

H
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Old 04-30-07, 06:20 AM
  #19  
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Originally Posted by Leisesturm
Could it be that on neither is 'standing' a big part of the technique? ... I for one think that it is the ONLY factor in the common wisdom that tandems cannot climb as well as singles.
My personal take is that the inability to stand and hammer up a hill on a tandem is a symptom and not the root cause of degraded climbing performance. As already stated, climbing well -- in or out of the saddle -- requires both riders to be fit and to work well together in order to maintain a high, yet powerful cadence.

While learning to stand together and ride out of the saddles on a tandem is something of an advanced skill for many teams, practice will get you there provided your team can overcome strength, form and technique issues. There are also some nuances related to mixing tandems with single bikes on hilly terrain. More specifically, there needs to be some give and take related to physics that can level out the net result IF the single bikes will allow the tandems to have the outside lane to themselves so that their downhill speed and subsequent uphill momentum are not wasted. So as not to get too far off the reservation, I won’t digress into that dialog.

However, back to your original observation, standing and riding out of the saddle is basically inefficient and more strenuous than seated climbing and should be used sparingly... unless you're Lance. Rather than blathering on about it to those who may not care, for those who want to learn a little more about basic single racing bike climbing technique (relaxing, breathing, body position, pedal stroke, tactics) you might want to peruse a few of the links to articles that come up from this search string.

So, once again, a team’s success or failure in “attacking hills” while out of the saddle will depend on their collective power and ability to sustain a high, powerful and efficient cadence while standing on the pedals out of the saddle. Moreover, unless it’s a short hill that can be crested in a short-burst, out of the saddle effort, any gains will usually be lost if they must sit down and gear down to grind out the rest of the climb while also trying to recover. If the hill is too steep and long to "attack" then getting out of the saddle is a Bozo no-no anyway and an efficient, seated climb is the correct and fastest way to the top for most teams. If you are racing or play racing and want to intimidate the competition, an attack can obviously be used for a psychological advantage but you'd better be sure you can make it stick: nothing worse than making a big attack only to look to your left and watch other teams spin by comfortably seated and in their rhythm. Ok, there is something worse: another team passes you looking as fresh as can be standing on their pedals spinning 90 revs while you're now simply trying to survive and to catch your breath.

As for the fixed gear bike example, you either attack or die on the hills: flying past multigear bikes is incidental. Put a strong tandem team on fixed-gear tandem and you’ll find that they too will fly up the hills… a weaker team (remembering that the power of a tandem team is not the sum of both riders but, rather, the sum less inefficiency) may not even make it if the revs can’t be held above 65.

Finally, as to ‘bent riders, I’ll let ‘bent riders hash that one out.

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Old 05-10-07, 06:02 AM
  #20  
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What kinda hill?

Is it the type of one off hill you hit from the flat at the bottom ( on either side of the hill) or is it a hill where you first have a good down hill before hitting the up side?

What I wanted to ask is whether it is general practice to charge down hill so you hit the start of the climb at speed (say 60km/hr) and so flatten the hill a bit or do you save all your energy for the climb?
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Old 05-10-07, 07:59 AM
  #21  
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Originally Posted by pel
Is it the type of one off hill you hit from the flat at the bottom ( on either side of the hill) or is it a hill where you first have a good down hill before hitting the up side?

What I wanted to ask is whether it is general practice to charge down hill so you hit the start of the climb at speed (say 60km/hr) and so flatten the hill a bit or do you save all your energy for the climb?
Good question. It depends on the hill. I think it was covered above.... If it is a short hill that you see you can ride on momentum, then by all means try to build momentum up and go for it. On the other hand if the hill is a climb then start at a good cadence and delay the shifting down until about 70 rpms. When we get to the point when we can keep above or at 70 rpms then we alternate standing and sitting. If the grade changes temporarily for the worst we both stand to attack it.
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Old 05-10-07, 08:13 AM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by Hermes
Our experience is that tandem hill climbing performance is all about the total power produced by the team divided by the total weight of the team
It really is as simple as that.

The reason that it becomes an issue with Tandems is that speed on the flats is a function of power to frontal area. Thus a tandem has a big advantage on the flats, but loses that advantage climbing, where the relevant factor becomes power to weight.

Hence a tandem team can keep up with stronger single riders on the flat, but will be dropped by a stronger single rider climbing. Creating the perception that somehow tandems don't climb well.
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Old 05-10-07, 03:48 PM
  #23  
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Being in our 70s (74/72) our hard/fast/climbing any hill and long distance days are pretty much behind us.
But our technique was to minimize the standing and maximize the gearing when climbing.
Standing was usualy only an emergency 'oomph' measure.
We have pedaled OOP for decades and it works for us, especially great climbing.
Equipment? Yes, it makes a difference; however the best/lightest equipment with lousy teamwork won't gain anything.
We are not natural climbers but moving to Arizona in 1978 we had to get adjusted to lots of long hills/mountains along with a few rollers.
Rollers are not an issue; charge up and over and use momentum to get up the next roller.
Longer/steeper climbs are another story. 11 miles of 7% grade to altitude of about 8,000 ft. is handled much differently.
Get into an easier gear and go up. Don't blow the knees pushing hard gears, and darn few folks can stand for 11 miles! So get comfortable, and just do it.
In over a quarter million miles of cycling our knees are still fine . . . the rest of the body? Well, we do have a few issues but are too busy having fun to worry too much about them!
Tackling hills on single are a bit different. Have a very short 1/2 block hill at about 16% grade in the area that I'll do occasionally on the single bike. Get up the revs, drop to inner chainring and big cog and finally just before the crest, stand. Yup, heart/legs get a quickie workout! Kay thinks it's a bit crazy for an old geezer to do that . . and, most often my stoker's right!
Pedal on TWOgether
Rudy and Kay/zonatandem
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Old 05-10-07, 06:44 PM
  #24  
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I been taught the stoker is "always" right.
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Old 05-10-07, 07:47 PM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by cgallagh
I been taught the stoker is "always" right.
You have been brainwashed ...the stoker is never at fault.
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