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Hill climbing anonymous....

bristolpetebristolpete Posts: 2,255
edited August 2009 in Road beginners
Hi,

(said in a small room with a circle of chairs).....

My name is Pete and I am censored at climbing.

So much so that on a 3 hour ride last week I bailed and took the easy route home instead of going for the 4 hours. But, in my defence I weigh somewhere between 14-15 stone and have a solid build. How I wish I looked like a pipe cleaner....

In the meantime, I am looking at changing my rear cassette and putting a smaller front ring on to sort it out, but aside from riding and getting the cadence right, any other tips - would it be worth me doing repeated hill climbs on the same hill once a week to get some more endurance for the long rides?

Are you a member of HCA ?
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Posts

  • Grazy81Grazy81 Posts: 196
    Practise makes perfect mate.

    Picking up on similar posts i would say to have a very loose grip of the handle bars so that there is no wasted energy in rocking the bike with your upper body.

    I also find that sitting back in your seat also helps get a little bit more out of your legs.

    But just keep at them and you will get faster
  • bristolpetebristolpete Posts: 2,255
    Grazy81 wrote:
    Practise makes perfect mate.

    Picking up on similar posts i would say to have a very loose grip of the handle bars so that there is no wasted energy in rocking the bike with your upper body.

    I also find that sitting back in your seat also helps get a little bit more out of your legs.

    But just keep at them and you will get faster

    Thanks all noted.

    I feel like a plonker sometimes as all the guys and gals end up waiting for me time and time again. I cant fault the support but it is getting me down a bit with worry really but I am still at very early stages of my 3 hour ride ability and am aware that I have some serious miles to go.
  • NWLondonerNWLondoner Posts: 2,047
    Seriously though, the more you avoid them, the HARDER they become. You need to keep doing them, then eventually you will fly up them.

    Spin away for you first few attempts then you will gradually be able to get up them in a harder gear.
  • (Fellow beginner here) No they are not funny when the pain kicks in and you've only got the strength left to look staight down at the road whilst pushing hard, hard, hard for dear life.

    I spoke about this today to the chap at the lbs here in Grantham as he's also pretty useless. He said i was spot on in that i...

    Set my self up spinning up in the right gear and concentrating 100% on smooth constant uniform round peddling. Not just the pushing down bit but the full 360* rotation of the toes.. I just rode, and rode untill i ran out of gears and then strength, breath, and then pain threshhold limits.. then..stop!

    as said bars are for resting your hands on not gripping white nuckle tight

    If i keep doing that i'll do better so i'm told. Apparrantly going for it standing up uses your explosive muscles?? Not the way you want to improve.

    That was the result of the discussion today :D
    Account requested to be deleted
  • You'll also be surprised how much a confident attitude helps. If you approach hills with a believe that you can do it you'll find them so much easier! It sounds tacky but it's definitely true!

    Hill reps are a fantastic way to improve. It also gives you something to aim for. I enjoy climbing hills a lot more when I've gone out specifically to cycle hills compared to when I have them in my normal rides and this enjoyment makes me push harder. You can also see yourself improve as your times for the same hill drop and you find you can push harder gears.

    I wouldn't worry about the rest of your club, just because they've gone up quicker doesn't mean they found it any easier so they may be thankful for a bit of a rest :wink:

    Rich.
  • bristolpetebristolpete Posts: 2,255
    Thanks all.

    The odd thing is that last weekend, I felt like throwing the bike into a bush and saying I am not cut out for this s**t but I still cleared them.

    The trouble is that at what point do you start to enjoy them and ride them without feeling it. As I have said before, I rode 18 miles daily for 16 months then stepped up by going out with a club and suddenly it feels like I am back at the beginning. However, I will prevail and I am convinced of that and I can nail hills on my MB so I need to work out the gearing ratios and I think I will be sorted.
  • My personal enjoyment of hills comes mostly from the feeling of achievement once I'm up the hill rather then when im cycling up it. I think you'll enjoy the prospect of tough hills when you can really start to feel yourself improving (which comes surprisingly quickly).

    Does your 18 mile route have many climbs?
  • phreakphreak Posts: 2,691
    For me, hills never get easier, you just get faster at going up them :) Its a swings and roundabouts thing. I'm only small so quite enjoy hills but struggle on the flat against the big diesels.
  • AGNIAGNI Posts: 140
    Hi Pete

    I used to feel like you when I hit the hills near me. I would pick routes that avoided these hills. Now I deliberately put the hills into my route.

    The mistake I have made in the past is to do the hills too early into my ride. I now allow my legs to warm up adequately before hitting the hard climbs.

    You will be amazed at how quickly you will progress if you keep attacking them. Keep at it
    Still suffering with wind
  • freehubfreehub Posts: 4,257
    Even if you avoid hills I reckon you'd still improve at hills abit, as you get faster on the flat it'd make you faster on the hills anyway, of course not as fast as actually doing the hills.
  • Rich HcpRich Hcp Posts: 1,355
    Practise them, it's the only way

    I used to hate hills, don't love them now, but they have to be tackled at some point

    I do a few circular routes of an evening and I ended up going round twice, the second time was easier because I was warmed up

    I'm less bothered about them now, I'll never like hillclimbing, but use it as a challenge, like getting a good average

    Turn the negetive in to a positive, you'll get it in the end
    Richard

    Giving it Large
  • iain_jiain_j Posts: 1,941
    +1 to all of the above. From the beginning it was rare that i did a ride without some huge hills. Years later they're not any easier as such but I know I can get up most of them (there's still plently I can't though!) so that gives me a boost. Just take it as slowly as you can comfortably manage - there's no point burning out in the first half mile of a 4-mile climb just for the sake of thinking you should be going faster. That's from someone who's been there done that.

    All you need to do is concentrate on pedalling and breathing smoothly and steadily. If you can't, click down a gear, or if you're in bottom gear already, pedal slower. It's suprising how slowly you can keep yourself going - I eased myself up half a mile of 20% at 3mph a couple of weeks ago. Try and stay seated - your legs will burn out a lot, lot quicker climbing out of the saddle. If it comes to it, going out of the saddle, keep it slow and resist the urge to spin the pedals cos it feels like you can.
  • I break my hills up into chunks and set targets to myself as I go up. It could be a parked car, lamp post anything. I just tell myself one more to go. head down and dig in to the point then it starts all over again untill I get to the top.
    You do need to encourage a good mental attitude to hills. Keep positive, tell yourself that you can do it and you will.
    Bianchi. There are no alternatives only compromises!
    I RIDE A KONA CADABRA -would you like to come and have a play with my magic link?
  • bompingtonbompington Posts: 7,674
    phreak wrote:
    For me, hills never get easier, you just get faster at going up them :) Its a swings and roundabouts thing. I'm only small so quite enjoy hills but struggle on the flat against the big diesels.
    +1 from me even though I'm not so much a big diesel as a vintage Massey Ferguson. I always struggle to pace myself on hills, I'm certainly faster on them than I used to be but that just means either that the pain is over a little quicker, or I start getting delusions of adequacy and tackle the bigger hills - that just means more pain, for longer.

    The last word, of course, has to come from LA:
    "Once, someone asked me what pleasure I took in riding for so long. ’Pleasure?’ I said. ’I don’t understand the question.’ I didn’t do it for pleasure, I did it for pain."
  • ChrisszChrissz Posts: 727
    I used to hate hills too :!:

    I have this year managed to drop my weight down to 15st and when I'm out with the Sunday club run (a pretty quick bunch) I can happily drive the bunch along on the flats, drags and gentle undulations. However, as soon as we hit a propper hill I start going backwards quite quickly :(

    For the past couple of months I have tried to ensure that all my mid-week rides include a nasty hill (Hollingbourne just outside Maidstone) and I am slowly but surely getting better.

    I doubt if I'll ever weigh less than 14 1/2stone so my only option is to learn how to get up the hills quicker. I also now find that (in a rather masochistic sort of way) I actually enjoy the hills now :D

    One day I'll be good enough to keep up with the whippets up the hills as well as drag them along on the flatter parts of a ride :lol:
  • Surf-MattSurf-Matt Posts: 5,952
    I love getting stuck into a decent climb.

    I might need help though... :oops:
  • bobtbuilderbobtbuilder Posts: 1,537
    Hi Pete,

    As hard as it sounds, you've got to stop hating the hills. If you can start to view them more positively, you will find them a bit easier.

    It's never going to feel easy though - as you get better at them your speed will increase, but they are always going to hurt.

    It may help you to find a few different hills and make a note of the time it takes you to climb them. If you ride them regularly you will soon see your times come down.

    I'm not built for climbing either (85kg), but I love climbing and the sense of achievement you get by conquering a monster hill.
  • Surf-MattSurf-Matt Posts: 5,952
    Or move to Lincolnshire. Or Holland.
  • AGNIAGNI Posts: 140
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bwlch_y_Groes

    If a fat middle aged porker like me can get up this, then we all have a chance

    TBH, I did stop a few times but I was determined to get up it.
    Still suffering with wind
  • themightywthemightyw Posts: 409
    Mental attitude makes a huge difference. I'm not great climber at all, but when i first started I'd see a huge hill and think "Oh my god....", now when I turn the corner and find an unexpected mini ventoux in front of me I laugh and think "here we go then". Stressing about it's only going to make them longer.
  • frenchfighterfrenchfighter Posts: 30,642
    This topic comes up so so often. Why don't people use the search function?
    Might be of some help. Good luck with your training. This is the best sport in the World.
    You are going to get a lot of contrasting information so basically you need to try a varriety of things and see what works best for you. You only need to look at the techniques of the pro climbers to see that no one method is best.

    So as for practical advice:

    Most important is simple. To be a better climber ride more hills. If you are not good at something, you will find that avoiding it doesn't make you better. Find a selection of hills of varying lengths and gradients and let your workout simply be a warm up followed by ascent, followed by ascent, followed by ascent. Keep going until your time drops significantly. Then warm down. If there is one near your house the whole workout shouldn't take more than an hour.

    Sit further towards the back of your saddle.

    Concentrate hard on applying pressure at all points of the pedal stroke. Pulling up is neglected but will add significant power. The only thing is that it is quite difficult and you may find it hurts to begin with (this is because you are using muscles you don't normally).

    In group rides, make sure you start near the front and set off at your own pace. The reasoning here is that if you are not so good, being amoungst the bunch helps you to climb faster and being at the front means that as you slip back there are still riders coming from behind. Start off at the back and you will have no one for company.

    Mindest is neglected but very important. Look on the hills positively and with the view of a challenge. Too often people approach hills with the attitude that it is going to be hard and they are not good at hills so they will just take it easy. Wathc videos of pros climbing to inspire you. Virenque on the Ventoux is one of my favourites:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Jc70TeXr3s

    Breathing is very important as has been mentionned. Blow out hard as it will ensure you have to breathe in. Make a conscious effort to breathe as well.

    If you know there is a hard hill coming, make sure you have had something to eat before hand as you will not be able to eat on the hill. Even drinking is difficult with the heavy breathing so make sure you drink a big amount at the bottom of the climb.

    Try and stay seated as long as possible as it will build your strength. Get out of the saddle for when it gets particularly steep. If you are a heavier rider, you will have to support your weight when out the saddle which leads to greater effort and a higher heart rate.

    When out the saddle, try various positions, for example arms bent like Cadel, or arms nearly locked like Contador.

    Vary your hand postion, on the drops, on the hoods, on the bars, especially on longer climbs.

    Do not go into the red as that will be it for you as there is no time to recover on a climb like on the flat.

    Don't try and accelerate hard, simply keep an even pace that you feel comfortable with.

    Vary your cadence to see what works best for you. Ullrich grinds whereas Contador dances.

    If you are swaying on the bike then change down a gear.

    It takes time but you will soon improve.

    Good luck!
    Contador is the Greatest
  • Surf-MattSurf-Matt Posts: 5,952
    "Look at my great post I put up" syndrome perhaps?!

    What is it with people that get so narky at reposts? So what?!
  • rokkalarokkala Posts: 649
    I started on the bike in late April and by end of May i was feeling pretty good flying about on 'normal' routes but didn't really look out big hills or enjoy the prospect of them, then in beginning of June i did a double century over 2 days with a group for charity.

    First day was fine and decent on any hills. Second day had rather more substantial lumps in it and i found that I was piss poor at climbing in relation to everyone else in the group I was with.

    Fatigue may have been a factor too as i hadnt done anything like it before but im sure not all of them had either. What was weird was that the legs felt fine for the flats and could take pulls etc and was stronger than some of the others in that respect.

    So after that swift realisation that my climbing legs were obviously censored in comparison my other legs, just got home and started doing hill reps and doing my regular 20-30+mile rides in a river valley so I could just go up and down either side of it on lots of different hills. Which in turn also seemed to accelerate weight loss(Went from about 13st6 in april to spot on 12st when i weighed myself other day).

    You soon start looking forward to the hills rather than loathing them, and when you actually start riding past people on big hills on club rides and such is a good feeling :D

    Also, don't be disheartened if you feel your not good at a particular style of climbing. I felt i was doing something wrong, because to me it isnt comfortable climbing out of the saddle for a sustained effort over a few minutes. But soon find out that its 6 and half a dozen, those that climb out the saddle don't do it any quicker than those in the saddle, just down to preference imo.

    Good that you've confronted it, so don't jack it in, keep at it!
  • bobtbuilderbobtbuilder Posts: 1,537
    I started on the bike in late April and by end of May i was feeling pretty good flying about on 'normal' routes but didn't really look out big hills or enjoy the prospect of them, then in beginning of June i did a double century over 2 days with a group for charity.

    First day was fine and decent on any hills. Second day had rather more substantial lumps in it and i found that I was wee-wee poor at climbing in relation to everyone else in the group I was with.

    Fatigue may have been a factor too as i hadnt done anything like it before but im sure not all of them had either. What was weird was that the legs felt fine for the flats and could take pulls etc and was stronger than some of the others in that respect.

    So after that swift realisation that my climbing legs were obviously shoot in comparison my other legs, just got home and started doing hill reps and doing my regular 20-30+mile rides in a river valley so I could just go up and down either side of it on lots of different hills. Which in turn also seemed to accelerate weight loss(Went from about 13st6 in april to spot on 12st when i weighed myself other day).

    You soon start looking forward to the hills rather than loathing them, and when you actually start riding past people on big hills on club rides and such is a good feeling

    Also, don't be disheartened if you feel your not good at a particular style of climbing. I felt i was doing something wrong, because to me it isnt comfortable climbing out of the saddle for a sustained effort over a few minutes. But soon find out that its 6 and half a dozen, those that climb out the saddle don't do it any quicker than those in the saddle, just down to preference imo.

    Good that you've confronted it, so don't jack it in, keep at it!

    Great post.

    Hide from the hills and you're always going to dread them and be sh*te at them.

    Seek them out, do them regularly & look forward to them and you will make huge improvements.

    Finding your own style of climbing is key. I'm out of the saddle for anything 10% or more, and I can keep that up for quite a while. I'm not good at seated climbing, but who cares?
  • bristolpetebristolpete Posts: 2,255
    This topic comes up so so often. Why don't people use the search function?
    Might be of some help. Good luck with your training. This is the best sport in the World.
    You are going to get a lot of contrasting information so basically you need to try a varriety of things and see what works best for you. You only need to look at the techniques of the pro climbers to see that no one method is best.

    So as for practical advice:

    Most important is simple. To be a better climber ride more hills. If you are not good at something, you will find that avoiding it doesn't make you better. Find a selection of hills of varying lengths and gradients and let your workout simply be a warm up followed by ascent, followed by ascent, followed by ascent. Keep going until your time drops significantly. Then warm down. If there is one near your house the whole workout shouldn't take more than an hour.

    Sit further towards the back of your saddle.

    Concentrate hard on applying pressure at all points of the pedal stroke. Pulling up is neglected but will add significant power. The only thing is that it is quite difficult and you may find it hurts to begin with (this is because you are using muscles you don't normally).

    In group rides, make sure you start near the front and set off at your own pace. The reasoning here is that if you are not so good, being amoungst the bunch helps you to climb faster and being at the front means that as you slip back there are still riders coming from behind. Start off at the back and you will have no one for company.

    Mindest is neglected but very important. Look on the hills positively and with the view of a challenge. Too often people approach hills with the attitude that it is going to be hard and they are not good at hills so they will just take it easy. Wathc videos of pros climbing to inspire you. Virenque on the Ventoux is one of my favourites:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Jc70TeXr3s

    Breathing is very important as has been mentionned. Blow out hard as it will ensure you have to breathe in. Make a conscious effort to breathe as well.

    If you know there is a hard hill coming, make sure you have had something to eat before hand as you will not be able to eat on the hill. Even drinking is difficult with the heavy breathing so make sure you drink a big amount at the bottom of the climb.

    Try and stay seated as long as possible as it will build your strength. Get out of the saddle for when it gets particularly steep. If you are a heavier rider, you will have to support your weight when out the saddle which leads to greater effort and a higher heart rate.

    When out the saddle, try various positions, for example arms bent like Cadel, or arms nearly locked like Contador.

    Vary your hand postion, on the drops, on the hoods, on the bars, especially on longer climbs.

    Do not go into the red as that will be it for you as there is no time to recover on a climb like on the flat.

    Don't try and accelerate hard, simply keep an even pace that you feel comfortable with.

    Vary your cadence to see what works best for you. Ullrich grinds whereas Contador dances.

    If you are swaying on the bike then change down a gear.

    It takes time but you will soon improve.

    Good luck!

    Because mine was a wry joke on the whole AA thing, but with hills.

    Get over yourself mate.
  • frenchfighterfrenchfighter Posts: 30,642
    Yeah well worth an extra topic. You could have easily have put that post onto the end of another thread.

    There was no need to be rude, I was offering very useful and detailed info.

    You don't have to take it - I couldn't care less.

    And fyi, in case you think I am all talk and no show, I am my clubs hill climb champion.
    Contador is the Greatest
  • Surf-MattSurf-Matt Posts: 5,952
    French - I'm sure you are good at cycling, many of us are good at stuff too you know. But I see too many posts moaning about not using the search facility.

    Maybe some people don't know how to use it? Maybe some want a different opinion? Maybe some want to hear from fellow beginners?

    There is no need to get stroppy about a re-post - especially then highlighting your own words as if they are gospel.

    However if your avatar pic is of you, all is forgiven...
  • frenchfighterfrenchfighter Posts: 30,642
    I understand your point however, all I said was:

    "This topic comes up so so often. Why don't people use the search function?"

    Nothing wrong with that, not rude, not sarcastic, not stoppy.

    In fact your reply was stroppy and in a worse tone then mine. It also created a series of posts which are not about climbing which is not ideal.

    If I have taken the trouble to reply to someone else with a long reply containing adivce I have received and read about, it makes sense for me to simply post it again.

    The alternatives are: don't do any reply or reply but with a shorter one.
    I am sure you can see that both are worse options to take.

    I have wasted too much time on this thread already so wont bother to reply to anything else.
    Contador is the Greatest
  • Back on topic rather than being snippy with each other. After cycling for around 30 years, most of which I spent avoiding hills, I have developed a new technique over the last couple of years that works for me.

    As you approach the hill, concentrate on getting into a steady rythm of strong deep breaths. Count as you breathe in, count as you breathe out, listen to the sound of the your breathing, keep it at the same rate. Don't think about anything else other than keeping strong deep breaths, think about the shape of your mouth as you breathe and the different sounds it makes as you breathe out, keep counting, it does not matter what to, just try and be consistent. If you start to pant and gasp, you have lost it, slow right down until you get the breathing rate under control again.

    Before you know it, you are cresting the hill and whizzing down the other side. If I don't do this, I concentrate on how much my legs are hurting instead, go too fast and ultimately stop.

    I now seek out hills and rarely get defeated by them. A lowish bottom gear ratio (36/27) does help as well of course.
  • bristolpetebristolpete Posts: 2,255
    I apologise and continue to thank all for the good advice.

    Good for you on being the club champion.

    I once took David Beckhams portrait as I am good at that....

    Pete.
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