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Gearing for real hills?

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  • Evil LaughEvil Laugh Posts: 1,412
    Siamon- :lol:
  • rolf_frolf_f Posts: 16,015
    Rolf F wrote:

    I take Ugos point - and I'd like to know what technique he uses as my conclusion after the Fred was that something was a bit wrong with my climbing - but then I'm not sure I haven't let myself get away with poor technique because generally I do find hills easier than the vast majority of cyclists because I am light. I know that some of the minority who did manage to pedal up Hardknott on the Fred were far, far slower than me overall. So who there is the fitter?

    When the road is steep and slippery or the surface is bad, you have to stay on the saddle, lower your body, hands as far forward as you can (hoods), try to distribute the weight both on the rear and on the front wheel (look how Cancellara does it at the Tour of Flanders)... in other words make yourself long, rather than tall, this way you won't loose traction and the front wheel won't lift. As for the pedalling, start slow and keep it steady, zig zag if necessary and at all possible. If the traction is good, you can allow yourself to stand up, but your body has to follow the legs as they try to spin... pointless to try and keep the revs up with silly low gears, you might overcome the steep section of the Cheshire view up Mow Cop, but you'll run short of oxygen very quickly on a longer steep incline... patience is the key.. forget your computer, monitor etc... just keep going... you need to work on the balance too, to be able to keep going at 4 mph or even less without falling off.
    MTB helps a lot as off road you will find gradients that do not exist on tarmac

    Taa for that - but to some extent that's what I already do; I always want to save my standing capabilities for some later exertion so I tend to stay seated as long as possible. TBH, the steep bit of Mow Cop seemed pretty easy to me; I did that on the 29 and I think I stayed seated for most of it. I think there is something to be said for trying some low cadence, slow climbing - I should probably just get the mtb out again! I did get up the 33% on Hardknott on my heavy MTB, silly low gear, stood up and it wasn't so hard - until I had to run wide onto the hairpin at the top to avoid a car and my rear wheel span on the broken surface and I stopped instantly :lol:

    But I still stick with my original premise. I'm interested in this sort of mucking about but I suspect most aren't!
    Faster than a tent.......
  • Tom DeanTom Dean Posts: 1,723
    remember getting a cassette with lower gears means sacrificing sprockets in the middle of the range where they would be more useful, more often. Making the hills 'easier' might not make your ride easier.
  • rolf_frolf_f Posts: 16,015
    Tom Dean wrote:
    remember getting a cassette with lower gears means sacrificing sprockets in the middle of the range where they would be more useful, more often. Making the hills 'easier' might not make your ride easier.

    I don't miss the missing sprockets that much, if at all, in hilly country - the gradient is always changing so a really consistent cadence is difficult to achieve anyway. The only thing I miss on the 13-29 is not having a 12 or 11 but I don't think that matters so much. My old Raleigh has a 5 speed freewheel and that makes little real difference. I think the gaps are probably more noticeably in gentler terrain.
    Faster than a tent.......
  • siamonsiamon Posts: 274
    Rolfy,

    Please return to your normal zen like contentedness, you are beginning to sound mad.

    I appreciate the dust up got fairly ugly but you rolled up your sleeves and Monty's gone now, you've seen him off, everything's ok.

    Please let someone else have an opinion.

    Breathe.
  • rolf_frolf_f Posts: 16,015
    siamon wrote:
    Rolfy,

    Please return to your normal zen like contentedness, you are beginning to sound mad.

    Lol! I have major computer rage going on here and I'm taking it out on the forum to try to keep me sane in real life! If the gun laws were different here I'd be re-enacting Falling Down.

    Apologies for all madness. I retreat, crestfallen and duly chastened :cry::lol:
    Faster than a tent.......
  • siamonsiamon Posts: 274
    Rolfy

    There is a consistency of assured contentment and emotional maturity in your writing (expect for today). They are the musings and considered opinions of a man who is at peace with himself and the world. It would have been a dreadfully dire outcome if you were to lower yourself to the same standard as the rest of us.

    I think Monty may be due a bit of leeway because of the amount of hours he puts in to patiently answering the same banal questions time and time and time again?

    Now, if thats all sorted, can I can gently suggest the obvious answer to the OP's problem is nothing to do with gears but the fact that he clearly needs a set of C24's?
  • Monty DogMonty Dog Posts: 20,614
    I haven't gone anywhere :wink:
    Make mine an Italian, with Campagnolo on the side..
  • I think Monty is correct that a fit cyclist should be able to get up any hill in the UK on a 39 x 25. However for a recreational cyclist 34 x 25 or even a 34 x 29 will make steep gradients more doable. Its like anything else practice, practice, practice until you get good at it. If you want a shortcut to that get some easier gearing.
  • mrolimroli Posts: 3,622
    Aberdeen Lune - I disagree. There are plenty of hills in the UK that are 30% or worse. I am currently sitting in North Cornwall in a place called Crackington Haven and the road to Widemouth Bay through Millook and Dizzard is 30% in places. I would not do that on a 39/25 - and I would consider myself fit. To even get to that road involves a climb out of Crackington at over 20%, in any of 3 directions. That is not even taking into account the 80 mile an hour winds, the road debris, the rain/hail and the fact that most roads have small rivers running down them! Even if I got up them, I'd be too smashed to get up the other side on the way back.

    Indeed, the pros use compacts and MTB cassettes on the more "circus-like" climbs - like the Zoncolan (although I acknowledge that these are after considerable amounts of climbing beforehand).

    I really hate the snobbery that says you must ride standard and 11-23 or 11-25 at max. I ride a compact - 11-25 and find that gearing perfect for my needs. I have never experienced "spinning out" (if I'm descending at a speed that would involve me spinning out, I find getting tucked in far more beneficial than pedalling) and don't find I get any large "jumps". My TT bike has a standard, but that's because I don't do hills on it (or many large hills).

    Its horses for courses and horses for riders - if you live (or ride) in a hilly area, find the right gearing for you as a rider and your body and go smash them hills.

    BTW - 80 of the 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs (UK) now completed - off to Dartmoor this week for those 4 - just wish I didn't have the xmas weight handicap!

    ps - loved the French.
  • jeesus, but this has taken off all of a sudden!

    As ever, any question aked on the web, never gets a definitive answer does it?! I particularly like the comment
    Now, if thats all sorted, can I can gently suggest the obvious answer to the OP's problem is nothing to do with gears but the fact that he clearly needs a set of C24's?
    That made i chuckle, that did...

    I'm not a pro, not even a racer, I ride for the sheer pleasure of riding. Mostly a mountain biker (and a damn good one too), but in a ride anything and everything all day, rather than a 2 hr xc race or 3 min dh race. Road riding is a different take on the pastime. The straight endorphin rush of thrashing yourself to a pulp, or the buzz of descending at 40+mph, plus being able to actually look at the countryside as you go through it, rather than having to concentrate on the trail. I like doing things "right" though - that's part of the fun, and there's no point in being slow if you can be fast! I don't "train", that would take the fun out of it. i'm a "just riding" rider.

    As a mountainbiker, i largely agree that all having lower gears do is make you slower. I've never needed anything lower than 22/32, and in fact technical climbs are easier, attacked faster in a higher gear, so you have more momentum. That said, you still have to be actually able to turn the gear over, and that's where the problem lies in this case. obviously not been out on the mountain SS enough recently! I've yet to have issues with either front wheel lift or back wheel grip on a roadbike. Never occurred to me to zigag though. Sounds slightly dangerous on the public road!

    FWIW I did another ride on Monday - took in Hathersage through Abney to Eyam (grinding with a headwind, but seated the whole way) and Curbar Gap, which relatively was a doddle - still 39/25 and out the saddle on the steepest bit, but quite comfortable at a sensible cadence, so i can't be doing too badly!
  • mrolimroli Posts: 3,622
    Jon - you highlight a difference between MTBers and Roadies there - my mate who is a MTB came up Steyning Bostal with me. He said the difference between hills on a MTB and hills on a road bike are that on a MTB, you just chuck it in the granny ring and have a nice chat whilst you spin up hills. Not so on a road bike!
  • I've got 39x25 on my road bike and haven't done hardknott yet, but I'm going to have to go there and try it in view of all that I'm reading. I think I can do it, but we'll see.
  • fish156fish156 Posts: 496
    JonEdwards wrote:
    (oh and before anybody suggests it, I'm firmly of the opinion that triples have no place on a roadbike. Flame me if you like...)
    Last time I rode up Winnats was on a triple. Usually I race on a standard double. Simply a case of the most appropriate tool for the task in hand.
  • Monty DogMonty Dog Posts: 20,614
    ammapedal wrote:
    I've got 39x25 on my road bike and haven't done hardknott yet, but I'm going to have to go there and try it in view of all that I'm reading. I think I can do it, but we'll see.

    First time I rode Hardknott was on 39x23 - I was under 60kg at the time, riding with E/1/2s and could beat them up almost any hill around - I was still having to 'muscle' the bike up Hardknott though & it wasn't pretty. Second time up was worst because I knew what was coming! These days I'd be happier to just get up on 34x29.

    There's a huge difference with being able to climb on an MTB vs a road bike - you rarely need to / can generate the same peak power on an MTB because you just loose traction. MTB racing rarely sees you reach the same sustained levels of effort that you see in a road race.
    Make mine an Italian, with Campagnolo on the side..
  • Monty Dog wrote:
    ammapedal wrote:
    I've got 39x25 on my road bike and haven't done hardknott yet, but I'm going to have to go there and try it in view of all that I'm reading. I think I can do it, but we'll see.

    First time I rode Hardknott was on 39x23 - I was under 60kg at the time, riding with E/1/2s and could beat them up almost any hill around - I was still having to 'muscle' the bike up Hardknott though & it wasn't pretty. Second time up was worst because I knew what was coming! These days I'd be happier to just get up on 34x29.

    There's a huge difference with being able to climb on an MTB vs a road bike - you rarely need to / can generate the same peak power on an MTB because you just loose traction. MTB racing rarely sees you reach the same sustained levels of effort that you see in a road race.

    I'm a road biker (NO mtb) and an ok climber, but if you were riding with elite and cat1 / cat2 you are beyond my league!!
  • Last 3 times up Winnats I've done it seated all the way in 34-28. If I wanted to go a bit quicker I could shift down a gear and stand, but the aim is simply to get to the top. Most other Peak climbs are 34-25 at most, but I have got a lot fitter since first g o at Winnats when I stopped about 5 times.
  • YIManYIMan Posts: 576
    I have to disagree or at least point out that this blanket assertion is flawed. It's based on an assumption that a "fit" cyclist "has to" be whippet thin and light.

    There are plenty of "fit" cyclists who are taller and heavier. Given that hill climbing is about power to weight ratio it is entirely possible that a fit cyclist could not get up Winnat's pass on 39/25. There is no rule for all. A fit cyclist 6'4" and weighing 90kg is different proposition entirely from one at 5'6" and weighing 65kg.

    I saw some bollocks on another thread like about how a fit cyclist couldn't possibly be as heavy as that.
  • tonye_ntonye_n Posts: 832
    Evil Laugh wrote:
    Monty Dog wrote:
    There's a huge difference between those that have trained to 'race' up hills rather than just ride up them - perhaps if you had cycled enough to know the difference between the two then you wouldn't need to start sleighting others because they have a different perspective?

    Maybe you should listen to your own advice!

    Monty, you have given me and no doubt loads of others on here plenty of great advice over the years. Thanks.

    Lately I've noticed a growing, almost bitter contempt on your part for any cyclist who doesn't race to a certain standard.

    Not everyone on here is a featherweight 5'4", participates in racing or buys cycling products from the perspective of someone who is. Maybe you could appreciate that a bit more and stop being so prickly when advice is being asked for from someone who doesn't fit your idea of what a road cyclist should be.
    I

    Quite.
  • mrolimroli Posts: 3,622
    Holy thread resurrection! Mind you, am in same place, facing same weather conditions....
  • northpolenorthpole Posts: 1,499
    Groundhog Day!!

    Peter
  • This seems an inordinately touchy subject, it must be said...

    I came to road cycling from a rowing background, having dabbled with mountain biking. The rowing left me with a lot of leg power and upper body strength, but unfortunately a very dodgy lower back. Mountain biking left me with a preference for a cadence of around 70 going uphill. I probably went slightly faster on a one-off climb grinding a big gear, but this was at a cost of going into the red-zone simply to avoid stalling, so on longer rides, the low gear/higher cadence approach worked best.

    My aim on the road was to get round the Marmotte, and after a few early forays on climbs, worked out that I'd be climbing at a VAM of 850 or so on typical alpine gradients. (This is a steady-state, multiple climb rate of ascent; hour long, one-off climbs were pushing the 950-1000 VAM level.)

    Assuming a 7.5% gradient, to climb 850m in an hour, you need to ride 11.3k, which represents 11300/2.15 turns of the wheels (wheel circumference being 2.15m give or take) is approximately 5,300 revs ie 88 revs per minute.

    At my preferred cadence of 70, this requires a gear ratio of 1.25, suggesting a 34*27. I have an 11-28 on the back and in the Marmotte could have done with a 32 or 34 on the back, as even at a cadence of 70, the cumulative strain on my lower back was causing it to spasm. (My knees, legs and lungs were fine throughout.)

    To ride at my favoured cadence of 70 on a 39*25 would require my Marmotte cruising pace to be equivalent to climbing Alpe 'D'Huez in under and hour, which is never going to happen. :(

    Conversely, a cadence of 57 would see me maintain a cruising pace my lungs can cope with on a 39*25, though I'd have needed an orthopaedic surgeon before the top of the Glandon at that cadence!

    I can get up 20% pitches in a 34*24 "easily" in terms of power and traction, but it f*cks my back, so I spin up these in the 28 as well, except when duelling for family honour against my mates, but even then, I only go for the 34*24, as not even family honour is worth a relapse of the back, so the 34*21 only gets used on shallower gradients.

    I guess if you've been brought up grinding at cadences of sub 60 and haven't irreperably mangled knees and/or back, then you'll prefer this approach now. But for recent newcomers to road cycling who have the option of compacts and 28 or bigger at the back, it's hard to think why you wouldn't start out with this. A 50*11 gives even the most ardent MAMIL enough "top end", one would think, unless they are unusually gifted at road racing.
  • ammapedalammapedal Posts: 11
    edited October 2015
    Compacts are good.
  • YIManYIMan Posts: 576
    xscreamsuk wrote:
    Last 3 times up Winnats I've done it seated all the way in 34-28. If I wanted to go a bit quicker I could shift down a gear and stand, but the aim is simply to get to the top. Most other Peak climbs are 34-25 at most, but I have got a lot fitter since first g o at Winnats when I stopped about 5 times.

    I tried it in July on 34-28. Not fit enough to get all the way up without stopping, at 6'4" and 94kg.
  • mike6mike6 Posts: 1,199
    Waste of time asking people what they use, you should use what you need to suit you. Are you a spinner or a grinder, are you a natural climber, are you young or old, a weekend or serious cyclist? Too many variables. Use what suits you. A bail out gear beats having to get off, however fit you are.
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