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Hill Climbing Stand up or sit down?

m0scsm0scs Posts: 196
I look up cycling a year ago when I bought a mtb Spec Hardrock to lose weight, keep fit.

Age 44 15 stone 10ILbs. No prev cycling since I left school.

I really love it. Much better than running I have tried.

I rode all through the winter, in the dark, all weathers ,mainly around a circate of about 13 miles with quite a few hills. Initially I rode on MTB fat nobblies but soon realised this was a mistake for road use and switched. I also got clipless peddles.

I have improved, got faster and now go for longer rides. I completed a 50 mile charity event last month in 3 hours and 12 mins. Not fast but it was good for me. I overtook more people than overtook me.

Ive upgraded my bike to a Spec Epic MTB a few months back. Still using it mainly on the road for exercise.

Sometimes I actually overtake people, still the roadies fly past me like Im standing still.

To be honest I expect this, but it nevertheless frustrates me.

I know the road bikes are faster ,more efficient etc and maybe in hindsight I should have bought one.

Anyway, the question:

Due to my general poor level of fitness when I started cycling my bum never, I mean never, left the saddle.

I just changed to a more comfortable gear and kept it spinning at around 80 rpm believing this to be the most efficient means to climb a hill.

I've watched a lot of cycling on tv of late and on observing those who fly past me when Im out, it seems that standing up whilst climbing is the faster method of attack.

I tried this a couple of times today, after a man 20 years my senior flew past me up a hill.

I found on trying that I could only maintain this for a very short period before having to sit back down and change gear, legs burning.

What is the fastest way to climb a hill, sat down with fast cadence, stood up or a combination of both?

I would be interested in peoples views on this subject and how best to improve. Lack of hill climbing ability is seriously affecting my average speed.

Cheers


Simon
Specialised Epic MTB on slicks.
SPD clipless pedals: FCN 7

Posts

  • gavintcgavintc Posts: 3,009
    Standing up is like changing down a gear on a hill when driving a car. You will go faster, but the engine will rev more and burn more fuel. Short, sharp hills can be taken standing but a long hard hill needs a more considered approach.
  • redddraggonredddraggon Posts: 10,862
    Just ride, there's no set way, the more you do hills the more you know how you like to climb.
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  • markos1963markos1963 Posts: 3,724
    Try changing up a couple of gears when you stand up it helps a lot. Then when you need to sit again, change down a couple. I find that doing this mix of standing and siting keeps the momentum up. If you try interval training in between hill climbing it helps as well. The best aid I had to my hillclimbing though is the fact I lost 1.5 stone:wink:
  • BikerbaboonBikerbaboon Posts: 1,017
    mix of both but
    the thing is with hills is that it does not matter how fast you get up them if you just collapse at the top..... practice the standing up as it does use different muscles that sat down spinning they will take time to get over hte demands you make of them.
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  • m0scsm0scs Posts: 196
    Thanks for all the useful advise.

    This forum is fab and I always make a point on checking new posts each day.

    There are obviously alot of keen cyclists out there.

    Clearly not having a whippet shaped frame isnt helping on the hills but maybe one day when Ive stopped eating the dounuts and drinking the beer, I will succeed.
    :wink:

    Cheers
    Specialised Epic MTB on slicks.
    SPD clipless pedals: FCN 7
  • GeorgeShawGeorgeShaw Posts: 764
    What they all said.

    But also, it's like all things, you have to practise. Last year was my first serious year and, as I was not very strong, I concentrated on practising climbing sitting down and spinning in a low gear. This is good for somebody who lacks strength, as it is more about aerobic efficiency than pure strength. That was enough to get me through a sportive at the end of the year.

    This year I'm stronger, so I've added a regular circuit where I include a 1 mile 6% hill that I climb standing up all the way. I didn't manage the whole length the first few times, but with practice you improve. Now when I do the circuit, I try different cadences standing up. A lower cadence improves your strength. A higher cadence improves your balance on the bike, and helps you to pedal circles and not squares.

    Now I find I don't spin so well sitting down, so it's back out for some more practice :D
  • kettrinboykettrinboy Posts: 613
    if your feeling knackered when going up a hill its best to shift down and stay in the seat as getting out the seat will tire you out even faster, if youre feeling strong then a short burst to get up the steepest ramps is very effective , when the grade gets up to 10-15% most people would need at least a short burst to help them to the top
  • I find it really hard to do a standing climb on a mountain bike because of the geometry of the frame, so rarely get out the saddle if I happen to be on the road on a mountain bike/on my 26" wheel commuter. When on my road bike I ride up drags seated , but if the climb is short and sharp, or kicks up a bit I will probably get out the saddle.

    I wouldn't worry too much about trying to do a standing climb on a mountain bike, it seems to use a lot of energy for little payback in speed. Keeping the cadence up whilst seated is good hill climbing technique and probably more efficient on a mountain bike.
  • idaviesmooreidaviesmoore Posts: 557
    I find it really hard to do a standing climb on a mountain bike because of the geometry of the frame, so rarely get out the saddle if I happen to be on the road on a mountain bike/on my 26" wheel commuter. When on my road bike I ride up drags seated , but if the climb is short and sharp, or kicks up a bit I will probably get out the saddle.

    I wouldn't worry too much about trying to do a standing climb on a mountain bike, it seems to use a lot of energy for little payback in speed. Keeping the cadence up whilst seated is good hill climbing technique and probably more efficient on a mountain bike.

    Yeah, I'm not entirely sure that mtb's are designed for standing climbs. I reckon flat bars make it difficult, whereas drops have hoods over the break/gear shifter that allows a more efficient grip on the bar.

    I'm a 'bigger rider' myself and have found that sitting tends to conserve more energy without any real loses in power. If it's attacking on a climb you're on about then it's a lot to do with your gear selection, fitness level and judging how fit the other rider is. A combination of both is obviously best but your body may well prefer one over the other. Find some climbs and time yourself doing the climb sitting. Then do it again standing. Then combine both. Which style is the fastest and which left you less tired at the top?

    :D
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  • Mark AlexanderMark Alexander Posts: 2,277
    gavintc wrote:
    Standing up is like changing down a gear on a hill when driving a car. You will go faster, but the engine will rev more and burn more fuel. Short, sharp hills can be taken standing but a long hard hill needs a more considered approach.

    I like the analogy :D
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  • nolfnolf Posts: 1,287
    On our local hill climb, I spend most of the time sitting down, just because it makes it harder to wimp out by lowering your revs.

    basically if you're aiming to get up a single hill fast you have to see which position you can get more power out of and therefore which will make you go faster (assuming aerodynamics aren't an issue!)

    On steeper climbs I find I can get a bit more power out by using my upper body a bit and this makes me go up very steep hills a tiny bit faster.
    On longer hills I like to stay seated most of the time, then if the gradient changes go out of the saddle to keep my momentum then choose a gear that suits me.
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  • phreakphreak Posts: 2,693
    I generally only stand up if the hill is a short one and I can power up it in a decent gear, or I'm completely shot and need to stand up to take a breather. Other than that I find spinning up the climbs sat down is the best way.
  • normanpnormanp Posts: 279
    I think that seated spinning reduces the risk of knee injury. Standing up is fine for variety when well warmed up and if done smoothly maintaining a reasonably high cadence and staying 'on top' of the gear (speaking as an 'older' sportive rider - not a racer). It is also great for giving a more thorough work-out using different muscles. I think it is worth practising if you intend to do Alpine length climbs where it helps loosen you up after sitting a long time or where it suddenly gets very steep.
  • m0scsm0scs Posts: 196
    Thanks for all the comments.

    I have been practising, short spurts of standing up on hills. I found my legs ached the next day in muscles I never knew I had.

    I have come to the conclusion that losing weight is the only answer to getting my carcus up hills quicker. Unfortunately I am way off my ideal weight.

    I did the Essex Castles charity ride yesterday, a 75 mile day of rain and pain. Actually it was quite good fun after the initial deluge of rain passed and my longest ride by 25 miles.

    I found that some riders caught me on the hills, as I was spinning away trying to conserve energy but on the flat I shot away from most.

    I concluded that my body is not designed for hills.

    I really would like to buy a road bike but maybe I should stick to the MTB for the moment and make use of all those gears.

    Maybe I should Time Trial instead?

    Cheers
    Specialised Epic MTB on slicks.
    SPD clipless pedals: FCN 7
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