Riding hills in the saddle or out

ineedalager
ineedalager Posts: 374
edited November 2011 in Road beginners
So here's what happened on my ride today. I was on a 20 mile route I ride that includes 2 good hills just under a mile Long and steep enough for me. As I approached the first hill about a half mile away I'm catching up to another road biker.

So I catch him right at the bottom of the hills exchange a few words about how windy it is and then overtake him and start the hill. I have never been along side another road Biker on a hill before I always ride alone, billy no mates and they always leave me standing when I'm was on my MTB. I came close to staying with some guys on my hybrib the other week. So now is a chance to see if I can match this guy up the hill on my new Allez.

He overtakes me then I overtake him and he follows me all the way to the top. So I think ok I'm not that fast up the hills always been a week point. He was an old guy like me I'm 56. What did amaze me was he was out of the saddle for the whole hill. If I try that iI get a third of the way up and have to sit back down again. I have a double 52/39 with a 11/28 cassette and I was in my highest gear in the seat all the way up. I know I have the option to put a compact crank on there and I am considering it when cash flow allows.

I don't usally get out of the saddle until I run out of gears and I'm struggling to keep going then I can only manage about 100 yerds out of fhte saddle.

So this guy tags along with me we go down one of my favorite descents and I'm flying at 41mph down this hill which has a flat bit in the middle and then goes down in a town and I get the 30mph sign flash at me to slow down. I put a little distance into my new found freind and we head up the next hill he catches up. It's a fraction easier that the last one but just as long about a mile.

I decide to stay behind my new buddy as when I overtake him he rides along side me and get the horns beepping at us. I stay in the saddle and matched him all the way up the hill. Again he out of the saddle for the whole hill. I can't do that as it seems to work a whole different set of muscles and can't manage it for lomg.

I kept a steady pace I kmew I could make up the hill and seemed fast to stay with this guy. Anyway he was on a 50 mile ride and I was on a 20 mile ride and he seemed slower than meon the flat bits as soon as the road flatened out I went at my normal pace plus a little bit and left my new buddy behind.

So I was pleased I was finally able to stay with a road biker on a hill but does staying out of the saddle get easier eventually could I maintain a higher pace or should I only use it as a last resort.

I want to improve my climbing and I was walking up those same hills 4 years ago when I first started MTB riding to lose weight and keep fit.
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Comments

  • DHTT
    DHTT Posts: 345
    Different Riders, Different Styles, Riding in the saddle saves more energy usually, but if people are trying to jump away they'll usually go out of the saddle, as you can get more power out for a short burst. + He might have a really uncomfortable saddle. :D
  • meanredspider
    meanredspider Posts: 12,337
    I've read and been told that I should stay in the saddle as much as possible. Getting out of the saddle can give short extra bursts of power and work some different muscles. It will, however, increase your HR a chunk. Given that it is useful from time-to-time, it is worth training for it a bit too.
    ROAD < Scott Foil HMX Di2, Volagi Liscio Di2, Jamis Renegade Elite Di2, Cube Reaction Race > ROUGH
  • Best hill climbing tips vid on the net

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E6QvK1NXINY
  • jibberjim
    jibberjim Posts: 2,810
    There was a study done, and it found huge differences in the efficiency of people in and out of the saddle, at certain powers efficiency swapped from being more efficient in the saddle, to out of the saddle, but this power number was hugely different everything from 80% of VO2max up to 150% of VO2max. That matches my experience some people transition to out of the saddle much earlier than others. Exactly why it is, who knows.

    But people are different, they pedal in different ways, there's no right or wrong answer, your body is pretty good at picking what's best.
    Jibbering Sports Stuff: http://jibbering.com/sports/
  • nferrar
    nferrar Posts: 2,511
    Do both would be my advice. Generally on long but fairly easy gradients (less than 10%) most people will sit down and occasionally stand up to stretch their legs. Steeper or shorter hills and you'll probably stand more. I used to hate standing when climbing, it was kind of a signal the hill had got the better of me and I was about to collapse in a painful heap but I forced myself to start doing more climbing out of the saddle and now actually enjoy it more than seated climbing (but still wouldn't do it for more than half a mile at a time).
  • Monty Dog
    Monty Dog Posts: 20,614
    It's easy, if you want to go fast uphills, particularly steep ones then the only way to generate the power is to get out the saddle. It takes practise - I ride 3 miles uphill on a fixed gear as it's too big a gear to use seated - really works the quads, hip flexors and abs.
    Make mine an Italian, with Campagnolo on the side..
  • jibberjim
    jibberjim Posts: 2,810
    Monty Dog wrote:
    It's easy, if you want to go fast uphills, particularly steep ones then the only way to generate the power is to get out the saddle. It takes practise - I ride 3 miles uphill on a fixed gear as it's too big a gear to use seated - really works the quads, hip flexors and abs.

    Crocknorth, a steep hill ridden 648 times by 176 people, I'm second on the list and averaged 525watts, the only part of which I rode out of the saddle was the first 10seconds on the flattest part as I was getting up to speed out of the corner, the rest was seated. You don't need to be out of the saddle to produce power, just pedal faster seated...

    http://app.strava.com/segments/crocknorth-629896
    Jibbering Sports Stuff: http://jibbering.com/sports/
  • Thanks for all the replies guys That video was very good.
    I just want to improve what I think is still the weekest part of my riding. I will try some of those tips in my rides.

    I did a search and saw a tip to ride one hill 5 times on one ride a week and try and improve that way.

    When I got back from my holiday recently I couldn't ride my bike for a week so I did 39 miles and five hills two steep ones one I had failed on last year and another steep one I've herd about. i did them but had to get out of the saddle for the two steep ones at the top and I felt it in my legs the rest of the day strangely when I was walking down stairs.
  • On the same topic, when doing hill reps rather than just encountering a hill on a long ride is it advisable to stay in the saddle for the whole hill rep, do a bit of both or alternate between in and out of the saddle depending on which rep?
  • styxd
    styxd Posts: 3,234
    It depends how steep the hill is really. Try riding Hardknott sat down, no fucking chance.

    Sitting down does tend to keep my heart rate lower, but I prefer to stand up when I climb, perhaps because Im pretty tall.
  • rick_chasey
    rick_chasey Posts: 74,708
    A bit of both. Whatever feels natural...
  • rick_chasey
    rick_chasey Posts: 74,708
    jibberjim wrote:
    Monty Dog wrote:
    It's easy, if you want to go fast uphills, particularly steep ones then the only way to generate the power is to get out the saddle. It takes practise - I ride 3 miles uphill on a fixed gear as it's too big a gear to use seated - really works the quads, hip flexors and abs.

    Crocknorth, a steep hill ridden 648 times by 176 people, I'm second on the list and averaged 525watts, the only part of which I rode out of the saddle was the first 10seconds on the flattest part as I was getting up to speed out of the corner, the rest was seated. You don't need to be out of the saddle to produce power, just pedal faster seated...

    http://app.strava.com/segments/crocknorth-629896

    Hero.
  • amaferanga
    amaferanga Posts: 6,789
    Monty Dog wrote:
    It's easy, if you want to go fast uphills, particularly steep ones then the only way to generate the power is to get out the saddle. It takes practise - I ride 3 miles uphill on a fixed gear as it's too big a gear to use seated - really works the quads, hip flexors and abs.

    I can generate more power on hills seated than standing. That said I do climb out of the saddle a lot, but that's just what I'm most comfortable with.

    Low cadence, grinding out of the saddle might make you think that you're generating a lot of Watts, but you're probably not.
    More problems but still living....
  • neeb
    neeb Posts: 4,470
    I've found that as I have improved my climbing technique I have become better at generating more power in the saddle and less power out of the saddle (when required), so that on long climbs I can alternate between the two without the HR going into the red when standing. On long climbs of several miles I'd still spend most of the time in the saddle though. For short climbs of a few hundred meters out of the saddle is still more powerful for me however.

    I think there are different modes of climbing out of the saddle, there's the big-effort anaerobic style which is what comes naturally to beginners when they first get out of the saddle, but you can also climb for extended periods out of the saddle while keeping your HR at around threshold levels, you just need an easier gear and a lighter action that is hard to describe but which I suspect corresponds to what people mean when they talk about "dancing on the pedals". For me I find gear selection is critical for this, I can't do it if I can't find the right gear because the gaps between them are too big, so often it is the precise gradient on a given stretch that determines that I will do this for a bit and then when the gear isn't right I will sit down again.
  • Monty Dog
    Monty Dog Posts: 20,614
    Before this degenerates into a dick-waving contest, but from my experience of racing, there is only one guy I ride with who can generate enough power to stay seated on a climb to keep up with the pack in a roadrace (he also happens to be National TT champion) - 525 watts wouldn't keep you in the pack - my buddy was generating 900 watts on the climb trying to hang on.
    Make mine an Italian, with Campagnolo on the side..
  • amaferanga
    amaferanga Posts: 6,789
    Monty Dog wrote:
    Before this degenerates into a dick-waving contest, but from my experience of racing, there is only one guy I ride with who can generate enough power to stay seated on a climb to keep up with the pack in a roadrace (he also happens to be National TT champion) - 525 watts wouldn't keep you in the pack - my buddy was generating 900 watts on the climb trying to hang on.

    Is that an Elite RR? Was that 900W for 2 minutes?

    I'd have thought that 525W for 2mins would keep you in the pack of any 1st Cat or below race quite easily.
    More problems but still living....
  • jibberjim
    jibberjim Posts: 2,810
    amaferanga wrote:
    Is that an Elite RR? Was that 900W for 2 minutes?

    11 w/kg for 1:45 minutes would almost certainly win you £1000 at the bec hill climb (based on Dan Fleeman's the pro cyclists published number coming 2nd in 2010 with 10.3w/kg and the associated estimate for the winner of 10.5) so this guy would need to be well over 82kg to not be competitive with a hill climbing specialist who rode for Cervelo Test Team... So it seems rather unlikely that there is any race in the UK where anyone capable of what's reported could be dropped.
    Jibbering Sports Stuff: http://jibbering.com/sports/
  • Monty Dog
    Monty Dog Posts: 20,614
    Seems folks are obsessed by the numbers these days, but from someone who regularly leads the pack in RR's over the lumpy stuff I know what it takes to get there and it ain't tapping away in the saddle - but hey, if you want to watch the bunch disappear up the road, don't let me stop you. Of course we're talking about bike racing, not the soft-tapping, pretend variation of sportive riding :wink:
    Make mine an Italian, with Campagnolo on the side..
  • EarlyGo
    EarlyGo Posts: 281
    ineedalager,

    You made a comment that you were faster than your new found friend downhill and on the flat but slower uphill. I noticed the same thing when I started on the road and it took me a while to work out why. Experienced riders know that putting a big effort in going uphill gives a bigger performance increase than doing the same thing on the flat because uphill you are going slower than on the flat. Therefore, less drag and less of your effort is wasted overcoming drag / wind resistance. When I worked this out and concentrated on putting in efforts on the hills (I live in a hilly area) my average speed over a 30 miler went up by 2mph.

    As to climbing, it takes a lot of core strength to stay out of the saddle for extended periods, so practice lots! Don't like the bloke, but Contador has an epic out of the saddle climbing style.

    Regars, EarlyGo
  • Ringo 68
    Ringo 68 Posts: 441
    On one of the hills I tackle, I used to ride all the way up in the saddle.

    Then a couple of weeks ago I tried going out of the saddle but didn't make it very far but at the weekend I managed to get to the top for the first time without sitting down.

    I don't know if I do the hill any faster to be honest but I do it in a much bigger gear and I know my legs/lungs/heart are getting a good workout.

    I try to stay as relaxed as possible when out of the saddle andfinds that this seems to really work.
    Cube Agree GTC Pro
    Boardman Comp
    Carrera Subway Hybrid
  • Just to add another variable...some bikes' geometry and set up lead them naturally to either seated (more leisurely?) or standing riding. I find my Bianchi definitely is better seated but my old Reynolds steel Raleigh is often better with out of the saddle efforts. Not sure that overall either is much quicker than the other though the gearing set up of the Raleigh does tend to mean I run out of climbing options more rapidly.
    Ecrasez l’infame
  • t5nel
    t5nel Posts: 365
    I find that I can put in a good burst and generate higher top speed (therefore I assume power) for a minute or two if I stand. If I was trying to race and getting dropped I am sure I would naturally get out of the saddle and work it!

    BUT
    1) I get anaerobic very quickly doing this.
    2) It works different muscles that I do not use as much so I can really feel it later if I attack a hill
    3)There seems to be a correlation between pushing a big gear on hills and knee pain for me :(
    My bikes
    MTB - 1997 Kona Kula
    Hybrid - Kona Dew Deluxe
    Road - 2011 Ribble Gran Fondo, Omega Matrix Ultegra
  • Thanks for the replies guys some good tips here EarlyGo I here what you are saying I will try some hill reps and put in a bigger effort, but I think I lost my new buddy because he was riding at a 50 mile pace and I was doing a faster only 20 mile ride so I could afford to give it much more effort. He said that was the only way he could get up the hills as he was heavy. he was about my build maybe a touch heavier. I'm 6ft 1" 13 stone 10 lbs or maybe he cooked himself staying out of the saddle for both hills!
  • Paul E
    Paul E Posts: 2,052
    I do both and find if I get out of the saddle I tend to dance on the peddles than mash and I have to shift up a gear to give the the resistance to get a good rhythm going and it works muscles that don't normally get much action which is all good in my view.
  • For what its worth from a newbie, I find the key is the rhythm. I can push a larger gear going uphill when standing up and if I am in too low a gear, my rhythm gets out of sync and I get tired much quicker.

    I am sure this is probably not the right way to do it, but I start a hill seated in a gear I know I can turn when standing up, once it gets too much whilst seated, I stand and ride until I feel I need to sit back down. Then it is flick down a gear or two and ride out the rest of the hill. (Hopefully! :D )
  • I treid some hill reps today rode 1/2 hour to a testing almost 1 mile hill and rode it 5 times I tried to put in a fair bit of out of the saddle work aswell on each climb and went to a lower geat at the same time.. Not the best time to do it as I had a cough sore throat and a slight cold so my chest was a bit tight, but I figured if I can do it now it will be easier when I'm 100% I almost never get colds flu etc since I've been cycling first one I've had for years!
  • Monty Dog wrote:
    Seems folks are obsessed by the numbers these days, but from someone who regularly leads the pack in RR's over the lumpy stuff I know what it takes to get there and it ain't tapping away in the saddle - but hey, if you want to watch the bunch disappear up the road, don't let me stop you. Of course we're talking about bike racing, not the soft-tapping, pretend variation of sportive riding :wink:

    Rubbish. Different riders, different styles. Do you ever see Wiggins pounding up a hill out of the saddle for more than 10 seconds or so? Contador in contrast would spend huge amounts of time out of his saddle in his 28 ring! Most efficient riders will get out of the saddle for the initial burst needed to creat a gap, then settle into a rhythm in the saddle increasing their cadence a higher gear. There are always exemptions though, such as Jonathan Tiernan Locke who seemed to spend most of his time in the ToB out of the saddle. But to say that that is the only way is ridiculous. Just because it works for you doesn't mean that it will suit the OP.
  • amaferanga
    amaferanga Posts: 6,789
    Monty Dog wrote:
    Seems folks are obsessed by the numbers these days, but from someone who regularly leads the pack in RR's over the lumpy stuff I know what it takes to get there and it ain't tapping away in the saddle - but hey, if you want to watch the bunch disappear up the road, don't let me stop you. Of course we're talking about bike racing, not the soft-tapping, pretend variation of sportive riding :wink:

    What Cat races do you do?
    More problems but still living....
  • peejay78
    peejay78 Posts: 3,378
    from what i can work out, this wasn't anything like a 'dick-waving contest' until montydog decided to make it one. anyway, it's generally accepted that getting out of the saddle is less efficient than staying put. however, for changes in gradient, or keeping on top of the cadence, or a bit of a surge, it's the only way. some of the steep climbs require a sustained out of the saddle effort - but generally only if racing, otherwise you can always change down and spin. my advice is to stay sat down where possible.
  • amaferanga
    amaferanga Posts: 6,789
    peejay78 wrote:
    from what i can work out, this wasn't anything like a 'dick-waving contest' until montydog decided to make it one. anyway, it's generally accepted that getting out of the saddle is less efficient than staying put. however, for changes in gradient, or keeping on top of the cadence, or a bit of a surge, it's the only way. some of the steep climbs require a sustained out of the saddle effort - but generally only if racing, otherwise you can always change down and spin. my advice is to stay sat down where possible.

    As I understand it it depends on gradient and cadence actually.
    More problems but still living....