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Struggling with Hills

Old 09-02-19, 08:55 PM
  #101  
zarbog
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Originally Posted by sheddle View Post
How do people deal with false flats, by the way? I can generally handle short steep walls, but what kills me is extended drags at like a 2-3% grade. I'll happily bypass those for a short steep effort up an actual wall, but is there any kind of technique for longer slow drags like that?
One section of rail trail here climbs a 1% to 3% frade for 18 kilometers. It has varied surface, anywhere from bare hardpack earth, softer forest trail like and of course the sectons where there is still a substantial crushed cinder covering on it. It is my nemisis. When I am tired I end up crawling up it at 12 km/hr but when fresh I like to try to average 20 km/hr on it. It's a workout for me but younger guys and girls do pass me even at my best effort. And of course I pass a lot of others on my way up. One of the things that keeps me motivated is the return leg where I fly down the trail 35 to 38km/hr if theres is no one else in view.

My technique is to have that 20km/hr goal in mind and just push push push. I have a cheap Cat Eye computer on board and trying to keep the speedo at and above 20 is the motivator. It's a workout for sure.
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Old 09-02-19, 09:19 PM
  #102  
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
All I can tell you is that I can go both faster and farther running very high gears at about 70 rpm than I can spinning lower gears. I can maintain speeds in low to mid-20 mph range for several hours riding the way I do, and if I spin a lower gear, I go a bit slower and get winded. You could certainly argue that I might be faster if I trained otherwise and I can't logically prove the negative, but frankly, I am pretty fast for a 58 year old, have been getting faster three years in a row, I ride two centuries pretty much every weekend in the summer, and I just have no reason to believe you.

I'm playing to my strengths. I don't fatigue putting out a lot of torque. Reducing torque and increasing repetitions is much less effective and more inefficient for me.
Nothing wrong with that and I have no reason to doubt you. Everyone has a different preferred cadence, and experimenting to find out what works best is part of the fun of cycling.
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Old 09-02-19, 11:30 PM
  #103  
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I have four bikes, all 29er MTB or gravel. Two of the bikes have 22/36 as the easiest gear, the other two have 26/36. I can tell the difference and value the 22/36 on the two bikes that have that gearing. Even if you don't NEED it to get up the hill, it's always good to have another gear you can go to for relief/variety or to avoid spending too much time out of the saddle. There's a hill that I used to climb routinely on my way home from work that is legendary (locally) for being too steep for many roadies to even ride, and I did it on a 30+ lb steel mountain bike. I've been on hilly rides with people who have $10,000 road bikes who can't keep up with me on the 30+ lb mountain bike, not because I'm stronger, but because they have stupid big gearing. Of course, there's another guy who climbs the same stuff with a 42/21 out of the saddle, but he's just strong and that's his style. For the OP (if he's even listening), if you want lower gears, if your bikes can handle it, and if it seems worth the cost, then go for it. More than likely you could get 12-36 cassette (9 speed) or 11-36 cassette (10 speed) and 42-32-22 cranks, and you probably wouldn't miss the high gears.
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Old 09-03-19, 02:09 AM
  #104  
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
All I can tell you is that I can go both faster and farther running very high gears at about 70 rpm than I can spinning lower gears. I can maintain speeds in low to mid-20 mph range for several hours riding the way I do, and if I spin a lower gear, I go a bit slower and get winded. You could certainly argue that I might be faster if I trained otherwise and I can't logically prove the negative, but frankly, I am pretty fast for a 58 year old, have been getting faster three years in a row, I ride two centuries pretty much every weekend in the summer, and I just have no reason to believe you.

I'm playing to my strengths. I don't fatigue putting out a lot of torque. Reducing torque and increasing repetitions is much less effective and more inefficient for me.
I see your point. 225 Slant Six vs 2JZ-GTE. One will power an airport tug for a million miles, while the other may be tuned for 9-second quarter-miles. Each has their purpose. Torquers vs. screamers. Some riders are luggers, others are spinners. Nothing wrong with either.
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Old 09-03-19, 07:54 AM
  #105  
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Originally Posted by sjanzeir View Post
I see your point. 225 Slant Six vs 2JZ-GTE. One will power an airport tug for a million miles, while the other may be tuned for 9-second quarter-miles. Each has their purpose. Torquers vs. screamers. Some riders are luggers, others are spinners. Nothing wrong with either.
The analogy is a little flawed in that a torquer on a bike is not necessarily a "lugger." You can actually go quite fast doing this because of the high gear's efficiency transmitting the power. The reason most people can't get fast this way is because they can't generate the power to turn the crank in these gears without recruiting fast twitch muscle.

To get back on topic, I think it's very common for people to alternate between strategies on hills.
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Old 09-03-19, 04:43 PM
  #106  
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i agree with pretty much everything everyone says. hills are not always easy for me, but: I make it a point to go up them....I'm 68. I've got extra weight. I've got an artificial knee and an artificial hip and bad discs (in my back).
The more hills you do, the better at it you get....I've been noticing something...
This is how it SEEMS to me...it may well not be true.
I've gone up plenty of big hills, and get to the point where I'm going 4 or 5 MPH...much slower and the bike falls over! Lately, I've been overcoming that by: refusing to let myself slow down that much, or at least not until the very end.
As: it seems like (this may well be totally non-scientific) that once you're going really slow that actually gets harder, that gravity becomes stronger. That going that slow makes it even harder.
I admit: i could be wrong about this. But it seems like it.
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Old 09-03-19, 04:45 PM
  #107  
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For me, "mashing" is easeir on My arthritic knees...well, my arthritis got ended when I had my knee replaced...
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Old 09-03-19, 05:10 PM
  #108  
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The thread seems to have mostly been debates over cadence/gearing and gearing vs. training, but has anyone mentioned that one of the most common mistakes a newer rider makes is going too hard -- much harder -- uphill compared to what they put out on the flats?

To put it simply, lots of people don't consider that human bodies can only expend a finite amount of energy above a certain threshold without a significant recovery. Cruising on the flats, most of us naturally stay below that threshold and can keep going for a very long time. Whereas climbing up a hill, we go into the red and quickly exhaust ourselves.

One might need to learn to pedal more slowly or get lower gears to prevent overdoing it while climbing. And both choices require becoming accustomed to riding at a slower speed. For sure going up enough hills leads to fitness gains that make those hills easier (and for some, develops a masochistic appreciation for climbing ), but we all have to start somewhere, and making steady progress on hills requires being able to survive the first few meters, then the next, then the next, etc.
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Old 09-03-19, 05:37 PM
  #109  
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Originally Posted by dkatz1 View Post
i agree with pretty much everything everyone says. hills are not always easy for me, but: I make it a point to go up them....I'm 68. I've got extra weight. I've got an artificial knee and an artificial hip and bad discs (in my back).
The more hills you do, the better at it you get....I've been noticing something...
This is how it SEEMS to me...it may well not be true.
I've gone up plenty of big hills, and get to the point where I'm going 4 or 5 MPH...much slower and the bike falls over! Lately, I've been overcoming that by: refusing to let myself slow down that much, or at least not until the very end.
As: it seems like (this may well be totally non-scientific) that once you're going really slow that actually gets harder, that gravity becomes stronger. That going that slow makes it even harder.
I admit: i could be wrong about this. But it seems like it.
Let me try to explain as simply as possible. What is happening at 4-5 mph (fast walking pace) is that the momentum you had up to that point is insufficient to help you up the grade. Your momentum is your combined mass (m) multiplied by your velocity (v). Gravity is a constant, pulling straight down at 32 feet per second. Because you are on a slope, a portion, or vector, of gravity acts parallel to the slope. The momentum equation is: m(yours) times v (yours) = m(yours) times v(due to gravity parallel to the slope). When your velocity up the slope drops to the velocity due to gravity down slope, you stop.

Regardless of the quality of my explanation, you are doing the right thing: don't let yourself slow down to that point. This will get easier as you lose weight and get in better condition. Just don't hurt your back pushing too hard (been there, done that, way to many times!)

When people "spin" up a hill, what they are doing is using leg momentum to add small amounts of velocity to their side of the equation, using the mechanical advantage of their gearing to keep the energy expenditure per stroke lower. If you have a bad back, spinning is the way to go. (Again, voice of experience.)
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Old 09-03-19, 05:43 PM
  #110  
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Originally Posted by dkatz1 View Post
For me, "mashing" is easeir on My arthritic knees...well, my arthritis got ended when I had my knee replaced...
Don't worry, it will come back somewhere else!
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Old 09-03-19, 07:00 PM
  #111  
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Originally Posted by surak View Post
has anyone mentioned that one of the most common mistakes a newer rider makes is going too hard -- much harder -- uphill compared to what they put out on the flats?
Good point, although I don't think most new cyclist are "blowing up" aerobically on climbs because they are going too hard.

I think the first thing to go for new riders on climbs are their leg muscles, which fatigue quickly and need intermittent resting.

Have you ever ridden behind a new rider on flat terrain? I have. They tend to pedal for a bit, then coast, then pedal, then coast, and so forth. They're coasting because their legs get tired—even on flat terrain with low power output.

Now put them on a climb, their ability to coast goes away, and their legs give up.
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Old 09-03-19, 07:39 PM
  #112  
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Originally Posted by terrymorse View Post
Good point, although I don't think most new cyclist are "blowing up" aerobically on climbs because they are going too hard.

I think the first thing to go for new riders on climbs are their leg muscles, which fatigue quickly and need intermittent resting.

Have you ever ridden behind a new rider on flat terrain? I have. They tend to pedal for a bit, then coast, then pedal, then coast, and so forth. They're coasting because their legs get tired—even on flat terrain with low power output.

Now put them on a climb, their ability to coast goes away, and their legs give up.
I think this a big reason that any riding a beginner does, flat or hill, tends to strengthen them. They get more and more used to steadier pedaling.
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Old 09-03-19, 09:05 PM
  #113  
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Originally Posted by Lightning Pilot View Post
Don't worry, it will come back somewhere else!
Oh...already has. Just not THAT one....
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Old 09-06-19, 10:40 AM
  #114  
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Change out Lois's and George's small (inner) chain ring for a 24 tooth. Also, change out George"s 32-11 for a 34-14. spinning too low of an RPM on hills isn't good for your knees and isn't very energy efficient.
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Old 09-06-19, 12:31 PM
  #115  
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I've been reading through and although I see some references to FTP, let's put it in numbers and illustrate why hill climbing is the bane of new riders' existences (myself included when I started).

Let's take a new rider, their FTP might be 100-125w maybe? It doesn't take too much to really be in the red up a climb if you're needing, say, 200w at a minimum to get up certain hills, so 160-200% of one's FTP. If you look at Dr. Coggan's power zones, that would be in the neuromuscular power neighborhood and probably sustainable for 15-30 sec. I have no clue what kind of power is involved with a 26-34 gearing up certain hills, I'd think it would be in a much more reasonable range, but it may still have people having to maintain vo2max type power at a minimum to get up. For those so focused on cadence in the discussion, higher cadence isn't going to help much if the power at that cadence is astronomical for a new rider to maintain. So while it's fair to discuss gearing as an option, at some point folks will have the most generous gearing available and the only way to make things easier is to either get fitter or get an e-bike. Not saying every casual cyclist who wants to exercise needs to run out and get a power meter/smart trainer/workout plan, but pushing yourself a bit aerobically and of course just riding more will help get you a little further along.
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Old 09-06-19, 03:04 PM
  #116  
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Yes, most of us will run out of gearing at some point on a hilly ride. I was surprised at what my power was on some hills around here once I got a power meter. It's not uncommon that I ride up hills at 150% of FTP. I ride with someone that will blow past me on the bottom of hills. I have learned to wait for him to slow down on the top half of the climb instead of chasing him right away. There is one nearby mountain that I always felt I could go faster on, then I got the power meter and I was putting out 95% of FTP. Not going to exceed that by much on a climb that long.
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