S**t at climbing

doyler78
doyler78 Posts: 1,951
edited July 2008 in Road beginners
I have only ever commuted which I have now done 4 years. The route is fairly flat so I haven't any real experience of doing any sort of climbs. Certainly none that aren't small ie last less than 2 mins. I can usually blast up the hills and recover on the descents however I have now got myself a drop bar road bike as I have wanted to do more longer rides and to increase the amount of climbing I do.

Today I done a route which takes me over a much longer climb than I have ever done before. It lasted 23 mins however there were short sections which were flat or downhill. The average gradient was only 3.7% however the uphill sections had gradients typically of 8% with a max of 14% (however the 14% lasted only a few seconds on each case) or at least that's what my CS600 is telling me. I have done this route twice before on my old flat bar just so I could test things and I didn't climb the hill any faster, indeed it was exactly the same time bar a few seconds, however my overall ride, which was 1hr33 mins was 7 mins shorter than my best effort on the previous 2. This increase in speed was due to my bike as I found it much easier to get to move forward and even had sections where I could use the 50x11 combo for a min or 2 on the downhill sections which were around 3%. This sort of shows that I can cope with flatish terrain okish however I just can't seem to work out what the best way to climb was.

This is the graph of the climb in question:

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3035/266 ... f049_o.png

As you can see my cadence dropped at one point to 29 which is woeful (avg 63) and I was in the second from last gear as I was determined not to go onto the last gear unless I was ready to blow so that I had at lease somewhere to go in the absolute worst. The first part of the climb is one of the steepest parts and by the time I had finished just this section my legs felt like they had the flu ie I had the shakes in the legs which felt like they do when I've had flu - achy - thankfully this had a short flat then short downhill section which allowed me enough time to recover before the next climb which wasn't so steep however I just had nothing really left so the rest of the climb was a pretty slow affair even when there were flat or downhill sections.

My gearing is 50-34 with an 11-23 cassette. Even when I use my flat bar and I have triple on it I still couldn't manage to twiddle my way up hills as others suggest. As soon as I get anything that goes up at all and lasts for more than a couple of mins my legs just start to tire and my cadence drops right down no matter how far down the cassette I go. How do I go about sorting that? Any tips for how to get myself over this hill and still have something left to do others? I suppose it is just practice. I found myself pushing back on the saddle. Should I move back or should I try to stay in the middle. Still fine tuning my setup. I had problems with the saddle on my previous rides however this one didn't cause me any problems so I think I have found a comfortable position. I raised my saddle yesterday also and it seemed better today. My legs weren't as tired on the flats as they were on Friday though I think I can probably still raise another few mm's.

Comments

  • whyamihere
    whyamihere Posts: 7,699
    Practise makes perfect. However, you say that your legs are getting tired and your cadence drops. When you find your legs getting that tired, changing position by standing for a while will help. It will put different muscles into use, and allow some of them to rest, as well as putting more power down.

    When you stand, click up a couple of gears. You naturally have a lower cadence when standing, so using a higher gear will keep your speed the same, and allow you somewhere to go when back in the saddle.

    You are using a fairly narrow cassette for the terrain, despite having a compact. Having lower gears to escape to will allow you to spin up the hill more easily, which could be the help you need. Overall though, the only way to improve at climbing is to climb more. Good luck.
  • doyler78
    doyler78 Posts: 1,951
    Mmm yet I suppose a bigger cassette might help think. What you suggest 11-25, 12-25 or 12-27? I was just looking on Sheldon's gear calc and I can see that my current setup only gives me a bottom gear just a bit higher than a 39x27 so I guess I made the right choice in going for the compact just the wrong choice of cassette. Well it works fine on my commute but just won't cut it, at least just not yet, on longer hills.

    I did stand a few times but never thought about shifting up and did notice that when I sat down again it seemed the first few turns of the pedals were difficult however I can see that if I shifted up then when I sat down then I have somewhere to go again. Watching Ricco taking off today out of the saddle seemed to be turning his pedals pretty handily. Just a quarter of his speed would do.

    Given this is only 3.7% average and I struggle up this I don't know how the hell some of you do the climbs that you do over there in England and on the Etape. I guess I will have to trail myself up over it again tomorrow as its a bank holiday here tomorrow so off work so might as well get a little practice in if I my legs are stiff in the morning though with only 1 1/2 hours riding today I doubt there will be a problem.
  • feel
    feel Posts: 800
    I would guess your flat bar bike is much lower geared than your road bike. I was able to ride up a 25% hill on a rusty old MTB because it had gearing of F28 -R32 i know there is no way i could have got up it on my road bike. My road cassette is a 12 - 27 and i have a triple with a granny ring of 30 and i am glad of it. I would use all your available gears and try to keep your cadence high. Switching your rear cassette to a 12 - 27 would make a big difference. That said i think the biggest thing is practice.

    Good luck.
    We are born with the dead:
    See, they return, and bring us with them.
  • Steve_F
    Steve_F Posts: 682
    Just keep chucking in bigger and bigger hills into your regular rides and you'll notice a difference quickly.

    A friend of mine trained for a charity event last year using only a canal. When the event went up the first hill he nearly burst into tears :lol: Learned his lesson for this year!
    Current steed is a '07 Carrera Banshee X
    + cheap road/commuting bike
  • Start a long climb in your *lowest* gear.

    You can always change up after a while if you're feeling good, but if you've blown through your reserves at the start, you'll never recover.

    Beyond that, getting better at hills is all about the Coppi System: Ride your bike, ride your bike, ride your bike [up hills].
    John Stevenson
  • madturkey
    madturkey Posts: 58
    I have a triple with a MTB cassette (11-34 I think) and I am still crap at climbing.

    But - each time I go up a hill it gets a tiny bit easier!
  • Nuggs
    Nuggs Posts: 1,804
    madturkey wrote:
    I have a triple with a MTB cassette (11-34 I think) and I am still crap at climbing.

    But - each time I go up a hill it gets a tiny bit easier!
    O/T

    Hi MadTurkey - I did your Haywards Heath/Sharpthorne/Groombridge/Ringmer/Newick loop from Bikely yesterday. Added a little bit at the end to get up to 100 km. Great route - thanks for helping make my first metric ton so pleasurable! :D
  • madturkey
    madturkey Posts: 58
    Nuggs wrote:

    O/T stuff

    Glad to be of service - I've still not done that ride yet but will try it soon
  • doyler78
    doyler78 Posts: 1,951
    Start a long climb in your *lowest* gear.

    You can always change up after a while if you're feeling good, but if you've blown through your reserves at the start, you'll never recover.

    Now that makes sense when you put it like that. I guess what I need to do is just get out there and introduce more climbing into my routes and take them a little more conservatively until I can figure exactly what I can tolerate.

    BTW I think I seen on here that there is a sportive over there that has a 33% gradient on one of the hills. Can't even imagine what the road looks like as the 14% sections looked so steep to me so more than double that steepness just has me wondering how on earth anyone could cycle up it. I'd need an engine on the back though that would probably blow up anyway :D
  • markos1963
    markos1963 Posts: 3,724
    As others have said its a question of practice and mixing things up. Equipment is less of an issue in comparison to training. I use a 50/34 compact with a 12/25 cassette, but to be honest I have only used bottom(34/25) once on a long(2km) 10% gradient and now I don't need it at all. You don't say if you use clipless pedals or not but if not DO. The ability to pull up when climbing makes a big difference. I do a lot more interval training now in between long rides and this helps me to power up the hills better, recovering quicker as well. Comparing to Ricco is a bit of a 2 edged sword as it can inspire if you are doing well, but demotivate if you've had a bad ride; however if you think about it he is probably using a 53/39-11/23 combo so his speed is entirely due to conditioning. This means you don't have to lash out for new cassettes/triples and flash wheels, its just practice,practice,practice.


    Oooh just realised post no. 200 :lol:
  • doyler78
    doyler78 Posts: 1,951
    markos1963 wrote:
    As others have said its a question of practice and mixing things up. Equipment is less of an issue in comparison to training. I use a 50/34 compact with a 12/25 cassette, but to be honest I have only used bottom(34/25) once on a long(2km) 10% gradient and now I don't need it at all. You don't say if you use clipless pedals or not but if not DO. The ability to pull up when climbing makes a big difference. I do a lot more interval training now in between long rides and this helps me to power up the hills better, recovering quicker as well. Comparing to Ricco is a bit of a 2 edged sword as it can inspire if you are doing well, but demotivate if you've had a bad ride; however if you think about it he is probably using a 53/39-11/23 combo so his speed is entirely due to conditioning. This means you don't have to lash out for new cassettes/triples and flash wheels, its just practice,practice,practice.


    Oooh just realised post no. 200 :lol:

    Yeah my whole focus when I decided that I wanted to change bikes was to ride better and longer and to introduce more hills and I knew that I would need to bring more structure to my training so I got myself a CS600 with power. I have a lot to learn on the subject of setting training goals however there are plenty of programmes that come up in the mags so I should be able to get a feel for them from those and they all of course have intervals in them so that will become a part of my programme. Any good programmes to follow to get me started. I can handle 40-50 mile rides though they aren't particularly fast, anything between 15-17mph depending on wind over fairly flat - gently rolling terrain. Over my 14 miles commute I can get up to 20mph avg but that's a route that I have been doing for 4 years so I know the effort I can put in very well to get me home quickly.

    I do ride clipless and haven't noticed a huge difference in speed on the flats using them. The main place I have noticed a difference is on the hills as they allow me to put more power through the cranks. Added about 2mph on the short hills on my commute. I now ride clipless everywhere though on my commuter I use a double sided pedal as I can't be bothered clipping in and out constantly when in Belfast with a traffic light every two foot :shock:

    I got to the 200 post 19 ago. Must admit never noticed this until you mentioned yours :D
  • willbevan
    willbevan Posts: 1,241
    Like you im awful going up hills, can getsome good speed on the flats,but slow down more than the rest of theguys i cycle with up hills

    as many have said just keep going up hills

    Started going up hills near me that average out to be 10-14%, some sections are around 20%

    The first couple of weeks have been murder, but yesterday, was so much easier.

    Think partly confidence,knowing i can get up them without dieing and that i will recover okay by the next one:)
    Road - BTwin Sport 2 16s
    MTB - Trek Fuel 80
    TT - Echelon

    http://www.rossonwye.cyclists.co.uk/
  • Tonymufc
    Tonymufc Posts: 1,016
    Unfortunately mate what alot of the guys have said about practice is true. However if you're going out on rides of more than two hours whats your preperation like? Are you carbed up, are you hydrated enough, sorry not trying to patronise you. Also that burning shaky sensation in your legs is lactic acid and the only way to get rid of it after you get over that hill is to keep on pedaling to flush it out of your muscles.