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hills paradox

Old 09-03-14, 04:13 AM
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hills paradox

hi friends

i love touring especially in panoramic places ,not fully loaded touring ,lets say carrying 4-5 extra kilograms 30 lbs including bike

The paradox is that most beautiful landscape happen to be on mountains, but when climbing with bike continuous hills of at least 10miles in a sunny road at very low speed like 4ph it becomes boring ,sometimes feels like torture ..it even makes walking seem more efficient and enjoyable ..yes i believe to enjoy biking you need a minimum speed to feel air touching you and not make too much effort however to get reasonable speed like 10mph on very long hills you need to possess and spend racer energy! exhausting and not comform to tourer mindset

i need opinion and advice of people having experience touring long climbs and passes (more than 10miles), is it a matter of training? bike choice?destination? or is it just a daydream to do touring in long climbs so most tourers need to avoid them

thank you

Last edited by choumichou; 09-03-14 at 04:25 AM.
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Old 09-03-14, 04:19 AM
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My feeling is that you can see the mountains from the bottom just as well as you can see them from the top.
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Old 09-03-14, 05:02 AM
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Get an e-bike.
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Old 09-03-14, 06:42 AM
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30lb including the bike is pretty lightweight stuff. I'm 62 and enjoy big hills. They key IMHO is simply gearing. Obviously you have to have the legs to make it but if you have to push hard every revolution you simply can't do it. 30lb isn't much but the first thing you can control is gearing and a typical loaded touring gearing should bring you down to about 20gear inches. Even 18 isn't too low. That assumes you can spin at 80 or so; if you mash at 40 and that's all you do big hills with a touring load will probably be impossible. Develop the ability to spin at 85. On big hills you may get down to 60 or something but your gearing should be low enough to ensure you are not having to push down hard no matter what. My wife and I were once passed (rudely) by a young 20 something woman on a road bike. We were fully loaded. She hit a mountain climb ahead of us. An hour later we passed her. She had racing gearing and was mashing hard with her racing gearing and we were going just a tiny bit faster than her so we took a long time to pass her. It was beautiful.
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Old 09-03-14, 06:47 AM
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Gearing and fitness are important when climbing, but so is technique and psychology. You have to learn to enjoy the pace of climbing and ride at the correct tempo for you. I find that listening to some music helps.
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Old 09-03-14, 07:30 AM
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Maybe psychology is a very important factor.

Do you have a job? Why do you go to work? For many, it's a means to an end and an onerous chore, but some (OK, maybe a few) also find enjoyment and fulfillment in their work. Maybe that's an analogy to hill climbing.

I realized a change in attitude toward hills when I hiked the Appalachian Trail. That's very hilly terrain, and equivalent to climbing Mt Everest from sea level six times in a bit over three months (minus the altitude difficulties of course). Toward the end of that hike, I realized the hills no longer bothered me in the least. It wasn't that I enjoyed the summits any more, and didn't actually enjoy the climbs, it was just a subtle shift in the way I saw walking up hill--it was just something I did, a part of every day. After that hike, I felt the same on the bike. I cycled the Northern Tier route across the US, which starts and ends in mountainous terrain, and the hill climbing never bothered me a bit.

There's a saying I heard long ago, that rookie cyclists complain about the hills, while experienced cyclists complain about the wind. That's certainly not universally true, as Machka (a frequent poster here) can attest.

All that said, I think one of the worst-case scenarios on a bike is climbing a long grade, in the sun, with a tail wind going your speed. That feels like sitting in an oven and there's just no way to enjoy that!
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Old 09-03-14, 07:40 AM
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i think long climbs are much more exciting and memorable if you don't know where you are or how long the climb is.
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Old 09-03-14, 07:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Lone
i think long climbs are much more exciting and memorable if you don't know where you are or how long the climb is.
whatever floats yer boat, I'm in the opposite camp.
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Old 09-03-14, 07:54 AM
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Mr Chou, as mentioned, the key thing is having the right gearing for the total weight of your bike and the steepness of the hills you are going up. When you have proper gearing, it really just comes down to getting on with it and finding a gear that allows you to put out a level of effort that you can maintain for a long time (specifically with really long hills)

I've toured a fair amount in mountainous terrain, and whether someone is climbing on a 18lb bike or a 75lb bike, the bottom line is : There will always be another hill.

Find a cadence, power output and (hopefully) the right gear and persevere, in a while you'll be at the top, but then it always comes back to --"there will always be another hill".
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Old 09-03-14, 12:39 PM
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Low gearing and training are a good idea but mostly you have to be motivated to want to do a tour. Keep in mind, doing a bicycle tour is one of the most elective choices you have in life: nobody expects nor requires you to do to a tour.
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Old 09-03-14, 01:08 PM
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my default Low gear is 2 feet, the British even call them 'Push-Bikes' , to separate them from Motor-Bikes..
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Old 09-03-14, 01:18 PM
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I like climbing, in much the same spirit as lots of people like flagellation.

Seriously, one gets into a rhythm and keeps going, there's something seductive about the physical challenge of just keeping on at a level that is just sustainable. I certainly don't get bored, I just get "in the zone".
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Old 09-03-14, 02:23 PM
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Originally Posted by chasm54
I like climbing, in much the same spirit as lots of people like flagellation.

Seriously, one gets into a rhythm and keeps going, there's something seductive about the physical challenge of just keeping on at a level that is just sustainable. I certainly don't get bored, I just get "in the zone".
To me climbing long hills is really about getting into a mental zone where you just turn the cranks and shut off everything else but your breathing and your heart rate. If I'm unfamiliar with the hill, I prefer it to be covered in trees. To me, nothing has ever been as soul sucking as Salisbury Grade in DV.
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Old 09-03-14, 02:27 PM
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Only did one tour, but it was pretty long (2,000 miles) and reasonably quick (55-96 miles per day, avg. 65miles/day). Loaded tour ~40-50 pound of gear and water on bike.

700c wheels, 22 tooth chainring, 34 tooth cog ~ 17 gear inches. Satisfactory for most hills, but I'm working on gearing down to 15 or 16 gear inches.

Riding slow on tour up hills does not bother me a bit, in fact I found those times at around 5mph to be the most relaxing, where I could see my surroundings the best.

OTOH when I hit NY State I encountered repeated hills where I had to strain and push hard, even at 17 gear inches. NOT fun.

Nothing wrong IMHO to gearing ones bike down to the limits of rideability (3mph??), there'll still lots of ratios left to accommodate faster speeds.

Mike

Last edited by Sharpshin; 09-03-14 at 02:55 PM.
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Old 09-03-14, 02:42 PM
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Like others have posted, it's about gearing and attitude. I have to remind myself of that sometimes. Enjoy the journey, not the destination. If you're in first gear and working like a pig then improve your fitness, get lower gearing, or don't climb that mountain.

Otherwise upshift and and enjoy the ride! If you're under time pressure then call that a mistake and quit doing that to yourself.
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Old 09-03-14, 06:32 PM
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I spent twenty years living in the pancake-flat Sacramento Valley. We had to ride thirty miles to our nearest hill. As a result, I love all hills and merely tolerate the flats. Another added benefit of hills is that when there are multiple roads that go to the same place, the hilliest choice is usually also the one with the best scenery and the least traffic. That's a three-way win from my point of view.
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Old 09-03-14, 07:10 PM
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Even though I am from Western PA, I am a horrible hill climber. The hills here are STEEP. But lots of climbs out west are long but you barely know they are there. The Selkirk Loop for example has pretty much only 2 or 3 hills that will get your attention. One just outside of Kelso, one just outside of New Denver and one in Nelson. Altitudes are still low enough that you won't be bothered much and there are a lot of great views.

There are probably prettier areas but not many where there is an easy ride, ample amenities and great views.

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Old 09-03-14, 09:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Sharpshin

OTOH when I hit NY State I encountered repeated hills where I had to strain and push hard, even at 17 gear inches. NOT fun.

Nothing wrong IMHO to gearing ones bike down to the limits of rideability (3mph??), there'll still lots of ratios left to accommodate faster speeds.

Mike
Where in NY state were you riding? Adirondacs?
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Old 09-03-14, 09:34 PM
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In the early 1990's I rode Boulder Canyon near Boulder Colorado among other canyons. I weighed 200 lbs and the altitudes ranged between 5,500 and 9,500 feet. I started with road bikes then I came across LBS that listened to what I was saying I needed a road bike with a granny gear like a mountain bike. I wound up with a bike with a 28/28 low gear. It still wasn't easy for me but I was not tearing my knees to pieces. I really miss the climbs but not the descending

If you are bored while climbing you are becoming anxious and wasting energy learn some breathing techniques to relax the anxiety. concentrate on your breathing while climbing and take breaks
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Old 09-04-14, 03:40 AM
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i certainly agree about gearing and psychological dimension, i have some objections once switching to low gears

-loss of balance when you have high cadence at low speed,less gyroscopic effect
-loss of pleasure and feeling heavy when you advance small distance per pedal revolution and have to keep focused turning it into an exercise, less freedom feeling and more discouragement
-loss of efficiency sometimes you spend less energy walking with the bike especially in high temperatures
i will try to get fitter anyway i carry low weight because i don't sleep outdoors

can anyone tell if e-bikes offer the same pleasure and can take you to the top without sweating let's say 50 mile hill?
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Old 09-04-14, 06:46 AM
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Originally Posted by nun
Where in NY state were you riding? Adirondacs?

NY Bike Route 17, west to east across the Southern Tier and then south along the Delaware. The Alleghanies weren't bad, but some places between Binghamton and Narrowsburg sure got my attention. IIRC nothing more than 8% but I think more than individual hills it was the steady repetition of them that wore me down.

Mike
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Old 09-04-14, 06:48 AM
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Originally Posted by chasm54
I like climbing, in much the same spirit as lots of people like flagellation.

Seriously, one gets into a rhythm and keeps going, there's something seductive about the physical challenge of just keeping on at a level that is just sustainable. I certainly don't get bored, I just get "in the zone".
+ 1. Plus the views are great. Riding the Great Plains can be monotonous but you just need to get into a rhythm.
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Old 09-04-14, 07:23 AM
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I enjoy riding up mountain passes. I like the scenery and I like the challenge. I'm not a particularly fast cyclist on the flats, but I'm a fairly strong climber. Like others have said, there's a significant psychological element to climbing. The gradient and variability of the gradient are important, too. For example, my favorite pass in North America is Logan Pass on Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park in Montana. Riding west to east, the grade is fairly constant and never excessive. Also, the scenery changes during the climb and becomes more spectacular as you go up. As you climb higher, more and more surrounding peaks become visible, and frequently additional wildlife, too. Contrasted to that pass is the famous climb up to Alpe d'Huez in the French Alps. I found that climb brutal. The grade varied significantly throughout the climb, there were several extremely steep sections, and one of the steepest sections was at the very beginning out of Bourg d'Oisans.
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Old 09-04-14, 07:34 AM
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Originally Posted by choumichou
can anyone tell if e-bikes offer the same pleasure and can take you to the top without sweating let's say 50 mile hill?
To each his own. I find the very idea of e-bikes totally boring. I love the beautiful symmetry that exists between man and machine with a human powered bicycle. You are not a machine though, the bicycle is. Don't treat yourself like a machine by reducing everything down to gear ratios, cadence, heart rate, energy output. You're an animal with emotions and biorhythms and not every day is the same. Be sensitive to your feelings and find an enjoyable and sustainable pace. Depending on the day, you might want that pace to be quite aggressive. Some days I'm "working hard". But inside, I might be working hard in the same way that I would exhaust myself as a little boy on my bicycle, huffing and puffing but on the brink of a big smile that comes when I reach the top of the climb. But if you're not feeling like going hard that day, slow down and give yourself a break. Nobody is making you maintain a pace that's stronger than necessary besides you yourself (for me anyway, I ride alone).

I get satisfaction out of being fit and feeling strong. Sometimes I can be my worst enemy in that respect by pushing myself a little too hard, where I'm "behind the curve" - i.e. breathing ragged, and riding on the edge of what my legs can put up with. Then shifting up once and bumping up the cadence, I can dial in a feeling that I can sustain the ride comfortably all day and move across the countryside enjoying the scenery and the feeling of freedom I get from doing something that's good for my body and soul and costs little more than I would spend living at home.

There are so many subtle opportunities to make the most out of your effort on a bicycle and also make the most out of the cycle's momentum and find where your effort pays off and where you're better off resting. There's infinite refinement to be had of that - a life long lesson in having fun. When I was younger I pushed myself too hard. So hard that I didn't even benefit by being more fit! I eventually learned to not try real hard all of the time and smell the roses. And to ride in a way that I could get older in a healthy way instead of wearing myself down until I quit riding.

There was a post here about riding in the Appalachians. I live at the base of them and ride there frequently. It is very hilly - in quite a different way than the Rockies. These mountains do a whole lot of up and down steep climbs. Until you get used to it the climbs can be depressing because you climb for a while, then undo most or all of what you just gained by descending - that sounds nice but then you're faced with another climb that looks a lot like what you just did! It makes the climb seem pointless. It can be quite a mental challenge. But it's also a good training ground because if you stick with it the climbs start fading into the background and they become matter of fact. You slow down and find a sustainable pace without thinking to yourself about how slow you're going. You're just going. Your speed is not what's on your mind.

Maybe it goes without saying, but another important negative for e-bikes is that you have to charge them. That's inconvenient. And in my case, detracts from another thing I like about bicycles - the "greenness" of it.
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Old 09-04-14, 09:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Cyclebum
Get an e-bike.
Originally Posted by choumichou
can anyone tell if e-bikes offer the same pleasure and can take you to the top without sweating let's say 50 mile hill?
From my research of e-bikes, you would probably sweat more by taking an e-bike up a 50 mile hill. The last 20 miles you be you pedaling to push all your gear, plus a useless motor, and a dead battery.

I'm not opposed to e-bikes, and I've considered one for a commuter, but it does seem to defeat the self-propelled aspect of bicycle travel that I like. And the thing that really keeps me from looking at it more seriously is the range. Seems like about 30 miles is the expected range of most e-bikes. That would work for my commute, but it might not work if I decided not to go straight home. And on a tour where most people seem to rack up closer to 60 miles a day, the ebike would be nothing but extra weight for the rest of the day. Then there's the need for a recharge spot every night. I don't think e-bikes are quite touring ready yet.

I'm not a fan of hills and not a good climber. However I tend to look at a steep hill as an excuse to get off the bike and do a little walking. It's nice to stretch my legs and slow the pace down a little more. But then a 50 mile hill would take me a couple of days to walk up, so I guess at some point you have to suck it up and ride. I haven't tackled any mountains yet. I don't mind riding at a snail's pace, but I usually have a destination in mind that's at least 40 miles from where I started, so too much time walking can ruin my schedule. Although bike touring in general seems to mess up my schedule. Even though I have a destination in mind most days, I like the option of stopping sooner or going further.
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