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Cycling Training for Climbs When You Donít Have Hills

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Cycling Training for Climbs When You Donít Have Hills

Old 05-09-21, 01:41 PM
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Cycling Training for Climbs When You Donít Have Hills

I'm posting a link to a CTS article about subject which comes up in this forum from time to time. What particularly interested me is that I do all my outdoor training in a hilly area, and I use the principles outlined in the article anyway, like focus on holding high effort for long periods, stand more than I need to, worry about getting high TSS per unit time and weight will take care of itself. And I use the gym rather than wait for riding lots to make me strong. I'd rather be strong to begin with.

https://trainright.com/cycling-train...nt-have-hills/

We did a couple long hard climbs yesterday on the tandem. The sorest thing this morning was my obliques, from reefing on the bars during short max OOS efforts. Side planks.

I have no connection to CTS other than subscribing to their email articles.
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Old 05-09-21, 05:24 PM
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I hear of folks in Florida doing "hill repeats" in the tallest parking garages they can find. I suppose the big climbs on Zwift would do it too.

I live in Silicon Valley, so I do not have that problem and can only go on what I've heard.
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Old 05-09-21, 07:08 PM
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Originally Posted by SCTinkering View Post
I hear of folks in Florida doing "hill repeats" in the tallest parking garages they can find.
I used to do that too but wasn't very effective.

You need a long steep climb. If you can't find one, your next best option is probably the indoor trainer.

If you are quite well disciplined however, you do it in the flats by riding at your threshold (highest power output you can hold at a slightly higher gear) for at least 10 minutes without any rest, no easy intervals, and definitely no coasting/freewheeling. You should be catching your breath during and after such workout and your lungs and throat will probably feel like it's on fire.
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Old 05-09-21, 07:52 PM
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Originally Posted by cubewheels View Post
I used to do that too but wasn't very effective.

You need a long steep climb. If you can't find one, your next best option is probably the indoor trainer.

If you are quite well disciplined however, you do it in the flats by riding at your threshold (highest power output you can hold at a slightly higher gear) for at least 10 minutes without any rest, no easy intervals, and definitely no coasting/freewheeling. You should be catching your breath during and after such workout and your lungs and throat will probably feel like it's on fire.
Interesting. What is your basis for recommending this to someone not yourself?
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Old 05-09-21, 08:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
I'm posting a link to a CTS article about subject which comes up in this forum from time to time. What particularly interested me is that I do all my outdoor training in a hilly area, and I use the principles outlined in the article anyway, like focus on holding high effort for long periods, stand more than I need to, worry about getting high TSS per unit time and weight will take care of itself. And I use the gym rather than wait for riding lots to make me strong. I'd rather be strong to begin with.

https://trainright.com/cycling-train...nt-have-hills/

We did a couple long hard climbs yesterday on the tandem. The sorest thing this morning was my obliques, from reefing on the bars during short max OOS efforts. Side planks.

I have no connection to CTS other than subscribing to their email articles.
I trained for the Mt Diablo Challenge with a heavy rotation of 2x20’s into the wind. I would try to sit up on the tops of the bars, to practice the climbing position and to catch more wind.

edit:

This increases FTP. But what got me the sub-hour t-shirt was 8 weeks of no cookies, no candy, no fries, no chips, no soda. The denominator is just as important.

Last edited by caloso; 05-09-21 at 10:00 PM.
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Old 05-09-21, 10:46 PM
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Only thing I've found that helps a bit here with our roller coaster terrain is riding into the wind as much as possible. It's the only thing I've found that feels pretty close to continuous climbing. There are a few segments of 1-3 miles of mostly inclined (averaging 1%-4%) undulating terrain, and tackling those into a headwind is about as good as it gets here. Fortunately we have those kinds of segments facing every compass direction, so I'll plan my route according to the prevailing wind.

We have a few short, steep double-digit climbs, but doing hill repeats makes for an interval session, not continuous climbing.

Resistance settings and using the tilt platform doodad on my indoor trainer doesn't really feel like climbing. Maybe newer, more sophisticated trainers are better, I dunno. My older Cycleops trainer just feels like a trainer, not like riding outdoors on any terrain.
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Old 05-09-21, 11:18 PM
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Originally Posted by asgelle View Post
Interesting. What is your basis for recommending this to someone not yourself?
I've actually tried both but settled with indoor trainer.

Training outdoors in the flats is too impractical me as I'm right in the middle of a crowded city. I had to commute 1 hr back and forth to get to that long uninterrupted flat road. Not good for daily training when you still have to work two jobs for a living.

I've tried a couple times, really great for climbing training but wasting time on the commute is not cool so had to revert to indoor training instead.
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Old 05-10-21, 06:48 AM
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Originally Posted by cubewheels View Post
I've actually tried both ...
The question wasn't what worked for you, or what you were forced to do by your circumstances, but why you would recommend that routine for someone else. It's one thing to say, "Here's what I did and how it worked," but quite another to say "here's what you should be doing."
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Old 05-10-21, 08:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
All good recommendations in that article.

I'd like to offer one more: push a bigger gear than you normally do.

Biking uphill demands more peak pedal force than spinning on the flat, so riding in a big gear also puts more demands on your muscles than when you are spinning a high cadence.

In sports physiology terms, this added muscle effort causes "muscle fiber recruitment". Climbing "recruits" lots more muscle fibers than spinning at a high cadence on a flat grade does. Recruiting muscle fibers for a long time, when they are usually only used for a short bursts, causes fatigue, and your power output will drop off.

When no climbs are available, I also like to stay in a big gear over rollers, in the saddle, trying to keep the cadence going. That puts a high demand on those climbing muscles.
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Old 05-10-21, 08:53 AM
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Originally Posted by asgelle View Post
The question wasn't what worked for you, or what you were forced to do by your circumstances, but why you would recommend that routine for someone else. It's one thing to say, "Here's what I did and how it worked," but quite another to say "here's what you should be doing."
I tried them all. The worst one being hill repeats, especially short hill repeats and I will not recommend it when indoor training is a better and quite convenient option.

I've also tried uninterrupted 10 minute threshold training in the flats (>10 minutes is better) using higher gears and they also work to train you for climbs.

The best being long steep climbs themselves. It really depends on what option is available to you. Is that simple.
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Old 05-10-21, 10:00 AM
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Oddly enough, I recently ran across this product: https://airhub.com.au -- it's an expensive way to solve the problem.
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Old 05-10-21, 10:25 AM
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IMO the only way to train for hills, without having hills nearby, is to get a smart trainer and use a virtual platform, such as Zwift. I find there's a mental component to riding long climbs that can't be replicated any other way. There's also the physical element to it, of course: cadence, power, bike handling, body position etc all contribute to the sensation of climbing that need to be practiced on the real thing.

All my opinion, of course.
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Old 05-10-21, 12:19 PM
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I was looking for a way to do 'real climbing training' in my rolling terrain with no long climbs. The constant (short) downhills are a killer WRT trying to simulate a real climb (IMHO). I don't have a smart trainer but do have a decent quality spin bike that I can set up like my road bike. And it has Vector pedals so the best thing for me would seem to be to use this for my climbing training. I just don't get a sense that the tilt of a bike on a real climb matters, but I could certainly jack up the front of my spin bike if I choose.

It is actually kind of frustrating.

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Old 05-10-21, 12:44 PM
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Originally Posted by DaveLeeNC View Post
I was looking for a way to do 'real climbing training' in my rolling terrain with no long climbs. The constant (short) downhills are a killer WRT trying to simulate a real climb (IMHO). I don't have a smart trainer but do have a decent quality spin bike that I can set up like my road bike. And it has Vector pedals so the best thing for me would seem to be to use this for my climbing training. I just don't get a sense that the tilt of a bike on a real climb matters, but I could certainly jack up the front of my spin bike if I choose.

It is actually kind of frustrating.

dave
if you don't have a smart trainer, I'd say the best way to simulate hills is to get a dumb, wheel on trainer, with friction resistance, so the rear wheel doesn't coast. Put it on a hard setting and have a video of someone climbing Mt Ventoux on the TV in front of you.
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Old 05-10-21, 01:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Doomrider74 View Post
if you don't have a smart trainer, I'd say the best way to simulate hills is to get a dumb, wheel on trainer, with friction resistance, so the rear wheel doesn't coast. Put it on a hard setting and have a video of someone climbing Mt Ventoux on the TV in front of you.
That is the plan (but maybe not with that particular video). I will just be using a (dumb but with power measuring) spinner bike. You can actually get out of the saddle on my Lemond Revmaster, but in that case it really does not feel different somehow. I am mostly a seated climber unless the gradient and my gears just preclude that.

dave
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Old 05-10-21, 06:53 PM
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Here you go - all the climbing training you want right from the couch in front of the television. dave



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Old 05-10-21, 07:16 PM
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I don't think it is possible to become good climber without actually climbing real hills. If you want to be a strong climber there is no substitute for going outside and riding real hills. Indoor training just doesn't cut it, high efforts on flat terrain isn't good enough. You need to climb real hills if you ever hope to become a strong climber. ..Go ahead and disagree with me if you want, I don't care, I stand by what I said.
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Old 05-10-21, 07:28 PM
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Originally Posted by wolfchild View Post
I don't think it is possible to become good climber without actually climbing real hills. If you want to be a strong climber there is no substitute for going outside and riding real hills. Indoor training just doesn't cut it, high efforts on flat terrain isn't good enough. You need to climb real hills if you ever hope to become a strong climber. ..Go ahead and disagree with me if you want, I don't care, I stand by what I said.
Given the strength of your argument and the mountain of evidence you provided, how could anyone disagree.
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Old 05-10-21, 08:23 PM
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Originally Posted by wolfchild View Post
I don't think it is possible to become good climber without actually climbing real hills. If you want to be a strong climber there is no substitute for going outside and riding real hills. Indoor training just doesn't cut it, high efforts on flat terrain isn't good enough. You need to climb real hills if you ever hope to become a strong climber. ..Go ahead and disagree with me if you want, I don't care, I stand by what I said.
I agree with you because many riders don't have the mental discipline to make it work with proven training alternatives to become a strong climber.
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Old 05-10-21, 09:00 PM
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Originally Posted by cubewheels View Post
I agree with you because many riders don't have the mental discipline to make it work with proven training alternatives to become a strong climber.
then that is a different problem. not the one being discussed. with dedication and perseverance it can be done. the author of the article made that quite clear.
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Old 05-10-21, 09:17 PM
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Originally Posted by spelger View Post
then that is a different problem. not the one being discussed. with dedication and perseverance it can be done. the author of the article made that quite clear.
I agree just trying to make a point that you do need strong mental discipline to make the alternatives work, resist the urge to coast nor back down the effort.
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Old 05-11-21, 02:19 PM
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although there's nothing like gravity to suck the soul right outta you, riding into a very stiff prairie/plains wind is the closest second.
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Old 05-11-21, 02:35 PM
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Originally Posted by radioarno View Post
although there's nothing like gravity to suck the soul right outta you, riding into a very stiff prairie/plains wind is the closest second.
It's the other way around for me. With a hill, I can get to the top and feel a sense of accomplishment. Riding into a day-long headwind is just demoralizing.
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Old 05-11-21, 08:44 PM
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Originally Posted by adamrice View Post
It's the other way around for me. With a hill, I can get to the top and feel a sense of accomplishment. Riding into a day-long headwind is just demoralizing.
actually, I completely agree, I'm a climber, day long headwind is what's soul sucking, not climbing, but I was just needing to post ten quick posts so I could post the one I really wanted to! But I still think that riding into wind is good training. Its just nowhere as fun as climbing!
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Old 05-11-21, 09:57 PM
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Originally Posted by radioarno View Post
actually, I completely agree, I'm a climber, day long headwind is what's soul sucking, not climbing, but I was just needing to post ten quick posts so I could post the one I really wanted to! But I still think that riding into wind is good training. Its just nowhere as fun as climbing!
My wife and I were riding our tandem on a century which involved a leg of about 10 miles on Hwy 1 into a 25mph headwind. We were putting out pass-climbing power and doing 9.3 mph. We gradually collected a long line of overtaken singles riders. We came upon a woman who was riding about 20' behind her oblivious male riding partner. As we came even with her I commented, "This is what they call a soul-destroying wind." She: "Yes, my soul is destroyed." She looked like it, too. When we came alongside her partner, I gave him some good advice.

We knew it was 25 mph because when we turned around to ride that leg in the other direction, we were in still air at 25 mph. We got lots of kudos at the turn-around point.
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