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How did "vintage" cyclists climb hills?

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How did "vintage" cyclists climb hills?

Old 12-14-20, 02:25 PM
  #101  
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Originally Posted by BFisher View Post
Comparing a casual vintage bike collector/rider to a vintage pro racer isn't really fair. Those riders put lots of miles in and did so to be competitive with other high level riders.
I was asking the same thing of a shop owner years ago. He was working on my touring bike with triple crank and I mentioned gearing. I asked how anyone could live with a double (this was decades before the "compact double"). Anyway, I said I pass lots of racers in my granny gear on hills. His response is possibly my favorite bike quote of all time ... "you pass lots of riders with racing clothes on". And continued to say if you/racers were in a low gear you got dropped.
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Old 12-14-20, 03:37 PM
  #102  
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Cycling was a working class sport. Coureurs were otherwise farm labor, factory labor, street toughs.

Remember the words of Ferdi Kubler. “I knew if I won the Tour de France, I would never go hungry again.”
That was motivation. Try to imagine today’s racers saying such a thing. Thinking such a thing.

Races went up mountains when the bikes had only one gear. Only tough men raced.
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Old 12-14-20, 03:53 PM
  #103  
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Originally Posted by no67el View Post
But "back in the day" these bikes were ridden too, no? How the heck did people get up the hills? I'm looking at a 50's era racing bike that was fitted with a single front chainring with 46 teeth, and 4 rear cogs with something like 14-17-19-22. Compare this to the supposedly macho racers of the 70's with a 53/39 and a 12/23! Let alone today's bikes which roll of the sales floors with a 50/34 crank and an 11-34 cassette....

Did people just like suffering more? Were people just strong enough to crank 40 rpm up 12 percent grades?

I'm actually puzzled by this. How did cycling survive as a sport with such brutal gearing? Figured you folks might know...
The racers just rode these types of bikes. By the time they hit 30 almost everyone hung up the bike. You didn't see any old guys at age 50 riding around on bikes back then.
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Old 12-14-20, 04:38 PM
  #104  
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Originally Posted by sunburst View Post
I was asking the same thing of a shop owner years ago. He was working on my touring bike with triple crank and I mentioned gearing. I asked how anyone could live with a double (this was decades before the "compact double"). Anyway, I said I pass lots of racers in my granny gear on hills. His response is possibly my favorite bike quote of all time ... "you pass lots of riders with racing clothes on". And continued to say if you/racers were in a low gear you got dropped.
Good point. It was a much deadlier sport back then. Quitting at age 30 is another good point. So climbing on those bikes was certainly not for everyone. Now nearly anyone can ride up big hills, and what fun it is! And with e-bikes, even more can, and I truly don't mind that at all, even though I'm not getting one soon. I think e-bikes are great.
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Old 12-14-20, 04:46 PM
  #105  
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
Good point. It was a much deadlier sport back then. Quitting at age 30 is another good point. So climbing on those bikes was certainly not for everyone. Now nearly anyone can ride up big hills, and what fun it is! And with e-bikes, even more can, and I truly don't mind that at all, even though I'm not getting one soon. I think e-bikes are great.
eBikes need to be ridden responsibly. I've been annoyed more than once by an eBike passing within inches at 30mph on a bike trail. Technically, they are mopeds and, unless ridden with some care and consideration for others, have no place on dedicated bike/pedestrian paths.
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Old 12-14-20, 04:57 PM
  #106  
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I don't think spinning vs mashing was a concept back then. So, just stand up on your bike pilgrim and mash away.
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Old 12-14-20, 06:03 PM
  #107  
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Yeah, if you mash these days, many people think you're a noob or have bad form. Personally, I blame Lance. Some kids these days don't ever get out of the saddle (and think it's bad form to do so), I assume because they have never seen a massively successful pro racer do it well. Some kids also seem to think that you have to be a big jerk if you ride a bike, I'm assuming because Lance was one. I am so glad I was proven right about him doping after all these years.

I am an inveterate gear masher. I tried spinning and it hurt my knees, because I have hypermobility issues. That doesn't keep me from being fast. Always fun to lazily turn the cranks past an incredulous other cyclist who's got the cadence of a sewing machine. Feels like a fantasy rematch between notorious gear masher Laurent Fignon or Jan Ullrich (me) and my furiously spinning opponent is either Greg or Lance. Wait til I break that Ti BB spindle from too much low-end grunt.
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Old 12-14-20, 06:26 PM
  #108  
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What's worse is when you go back to your old college campus that happens to be on a hill-side and you think "Holy crap, I used to ride up this hill on a 30-lb Schwinn with a 42-25 and a backpack full of books!"
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Old 12-14-20, 06:39 PM
  #109  
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Originally Posted by scarlson View Post
Some kids these days don't ever get out of the saddle (and think it's bad form to do so)...
There are some people that kind of brag about "sit and spin" as if its the undisputed proper way to ride a bike, and there are advantages to it, but to never get out of the saddle and try to twist the cranks clean off the bike is a miserable way to go through life!
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Old 12-14-20, 06:50 PM
  #110  
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But the coolest thing to me about the vintage bike are those moments, often in autumn. You've miss judged when the rain was going to come and it's catching you on that last ten miles of the ride. The bike trail coated with rotting leaves, muck, and twigs. No fenders of course and you can feel the spray off both wheels. Your glasses steam and smear and you up the pace as the rain comes down. You settle into a gear. Topped out for your legs that day and you carry this all the way home and somewhere, somehow on that ride for a few moments you touch those hard hard men in their black and white photos, a brief glance as they pass you fading into the falling rain.
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Old 12-14-20, 06:55 PM
  #111  
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Thirty years ago when I was racing, I didn't mind an 11 or 12-24, hell that was a big gear.

Today I ride a nice triple with a 12-28, lol
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Old 12-14-20, 07:02 PM
  #112  
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[QUOTE=robertorolfo;21828211]Pretty sure he was joking. But an outdated point of view is just as bad as using a term like "ok boomer," no?

And this is an entirely different can of worms, probably best discussed somewhere else, but this often thrown around idea that athletes today are faster and stronger is
highly debatable.

Agreed, not saying they aren't phenomenal athletes but they do have a far different life than riders from 20, 50 or a 100 years ago.

No wrenching whatsoever unless they insist, on the road or in the race.

Eat, ride, sleep, race, train, massage, repeat, especially on the big high $$$ teams.

Still plenty of tough guys in the peloton, but they cannot command the race as some once did.

Where the H**L is Jens when you need him?
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Old 12-14-20, 07:08 PM
  #113  
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Originally Posted by jackbombay View Post
There are some people that kind of brag about "sit and spin" as if its the undisputed proper way to ride a bike, and there are advantages to it, but to never get out of the saddle and try to twist the cranks clean off the bike is a miserable way to go through life!
I resemble that remark.
If I get out of the saddle, I will probably fall over.

24 X 36 helps make sure that doesn't happen.
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Old 12-14-20, 07:18 PM
  #114  
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Originally Posted by merziac View Post
24 X 36 helps make sure that doesn't happen.
I do love some low gears too!

My carbon road bike has a 34 tooth ring with 36 tooth cog, people think its goofy, but I love it! I can recover up a %10 grade with that gear, or I can click a few gears down and get out of the saddle and smash, I like options :-)
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Old 12-14-20, 07:26 PM
  #115  
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Originally Posted by jackbombay View Post
I do love some low gears too!

My carbon road bike has a 34 tooth ring with 36 tooth cog, people think its goofy, but I love it! I can recover up a %10 grade with that gear, or I can click a few gears down and get out of the saddle and smash, I like options :-)
First of two Crater Lake rides, 28 X 36 had me walking about a half a mile of the biggest climb, probably not that big for most.

Next time there was no walking with the 24 X 36 and the downhills were a lot more fun with 53 X 11.
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Old 12-14-20, 08:25 PM
  #116  
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Originally Posted by merziac View Post
First of two Crater Lake rides, 28 X 36 had me walking about a half a mile of the biggest climb, probably not that big for most.
Most people aren't 6'7"!

Originally Posted by merziac View Post
Next time there was no walking with the 24 X 36 and the downhills were a lot more fun with 53 X 11.
I had my 50/11 spun out on the descents there, 53/11 wouldn't hurt my feelings! I would love a 10t cog in the back, but its not worth the expense.
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Old 12-14-20, 10:30 PM
  #117  
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Originally Posted by jackbombay View Post
There are some people that kind of brag about "sit and spin" as if its the undisputed proper way to ride a bike, and there are advantages to it, but to never get out of the saddle and try to twist the cranks clean off the bike is a miserable way to go through life!
Exactly. Some of us even succeed !




Le Professeur became my cycling hero after I broke a Phil BB on my Ron Cooper touring rig in similar fashion. I had a poster of him on my college dorm wall.
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Old 12-14-20, 10:56 PM
  #118  
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Originally Posted by scarlson View Post
Exactly. Some of us even succeed !
Oh man, that has to be a hard crash when a crank falls off when you're out of the saddle smashing hard!
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Old 12-15-20, 05:49 AM
  #119  
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I guess I am vintage

I rode big hills in Wisconsin back in late 1970s by shifting gears. and even zig zagging my way up. I put my first Triple crank around 1980. Just cam out. Is drilled. No internet then, "Bike Warehouse "was my go to printed catalogue.

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Old 12-15-20, 06:06 AM
  #120  
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Yikes. That photo of Fignon gives me sympathetic groin pain. At best he must have smashed the tendon and muscle between his thigh and groin. I'm assuming he didn't smash his testicles or he'd be rolling on the ground in pain and vomiting.

I've done that a couple of times when I first used clipless shoes/pedals. I stood to climb after starting off from a stop and didn't realize I wasn't fully clipped in. Foot slipped off the pedal and I smashed the inside of my thigh and groin. Now I make sure I'm clipped in before standing to pedal, and start out in an easier gear. That way if I miss clipping in the first time I can one-foot it a couple of rotations and catch up. Took me awhile to catch onto that trick.
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Old 12-15-20, 10:53 AM
  #121  
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my main complaint with anime series Yowamushi Pedal is that the main character uses cadence climbing like an Otaku Chris Froome impersonation. Disgusting.
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Old 12-15-20, 11:29 AM
  #122  
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I raced back in the "60s on this Legnano Roma, with a 53/45 front and usually a 24t 5 speed rear. Honestly, I don't know how we did hills. Being 50 lbs lighter probably helped, as well as 50 years younger. For Eroica, on the same bike, I'm running a 52/42 front with a 28t 6 speed rear, and it is not enough. The black and white picture was taken on China Grade, our usual training hill in Bakersfield. I took my modern Roubaix triple around our old course, including the hill, a few years ago when Amgen Tour used that part of road. It was even hard, now, on the modern carbon triple. Not wanting to mess with the Legnano's Campy gearing, I also built a Raleigh Super Course triple with a 32f x 34r best gear, and still walked 3 Eroica hills.


Still loving the bike, now with more friendly gearing.

'73 Raleigh Super Course, Sugino triple, with 34t Megarange rear.

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Old 12-15-20, 11:34 AM
  #123  
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Originally Posted by sheddle View Post
my main complaint with anime series Yowamushi Pedal is that the main character uses cadence climbing like an Otaku Chris Froome impersonation. Disgusting.
On the other hand he races in high level amateur/high school races with what is clearly a lugged steel frame retromodded with a modern Shimano group which is cool, and the rival climber has a Look 595 which is one of my favorite modern road bikes so it's not without merits
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Old 12-15-20, 11:34 AM
  #124  
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My experience with riding single speed city bikes is that you can train your body to put out loads of power at pretty much any cadence. Switching from my SS (42/18 iirc) to a geared bike makes spinning up hills in a small gear seem comically slow and inefficient.
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Old 12-15-20, 11:53 AM
  #125  
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[QUOTE=merziac;21832982]
Originally Posted by robertorolfo View Post
Pretty sure he was joking. But an outdated point of view is just as bad as using a term like "ok boomer," no?

And this is an entirely different can of worms, probably best discussed somewhere else, but this often thrown around idea that athletes today are faster and stronger is
highly debatable.

Agreed, not saying they aren't phenomenal athletes but they do have a far different life than riders from 20, 50 or a 100 years ago.

No wrenching whatsoever unless they insist, on the road or in the race.

Eat, ride, sleep, race, train, massage, repeat, especially on the big high $$$ teams.

Still plenty of tough guys in the peloton, but they cannot command the race as some once did.

Where the H**L is Jens when you need him?
Everything is so much more controlled by team DSes rather than the riders. Marginal gains down to single digit watts per KM on stuff like chain lubricants and derailleur hanger wheels. Commentators complaining if someone moves a non-leg muscle because hey, that's one watt that could go into the crank rather than rocking your body while climbing out of the saddle.

Powermeters, man. They ruined everything.
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