Riding out of the saddle.

blackpoolkev
blackpoolkev Posts: 474
edited October 2012 in Road beginners
Basically I'm rubbish at riding out of the saddle.

My local flat terrain means that I don't really have to get out of the saddle much.

I do it while accecelarating away from junctions and short gradients,but I look enviously at those that seem to maintain a cat-like fluidity without getting out of breath on long climbs.I even sit down to change gear-how lame is that? :oops:
Trial and error don't seem to be helping much,any pearls of wisdom?

Comments

  • alihisgreat
    alihisgreat Posts: 3,872
    Chances are those that look good out of the saddle have been cycling a lot longer that you and have developed the cycling specific strength required in such situations as short sharp hills where out of the saddle action may be required.

    There are still some tips though ->

    -Don't lean forward -> stay over the cranks
    -Push a bigger gear -> High RPM takes lots of effort out of the saddle
    -Keep the torso and chest open for breathing -> don't hunch down in a low position.
  • lc1981
    lc1981 Posts: 820
    There are some interesting thoughts and tips on climbing out of the saddle in this article.
  • smidsy
    smidsy Posts: 5,273
    You need to develop your core and leg muscles to provide a stable platform. This only comes with time and is developed by doing the very task you say you do not do often....ride out of the saddle.

    It's the same as anything, the more you do it the more you can.

    When I started I was exactly as you describe but just by getting out there and turning the pedals mile after mile on varying terrain and using in and out of the saddle pedalling as necessary it just starts to come together.

    All your weight (well the vast majority) is going through your legs when you stand so you have to be able to take that as well as drive forwards - just keep practising and it will develop.

    Also the more you cycle the fitter you get and the less you weigh..so it all comes together to make things a little easier over time.

    Sorry there is no easy or quick solution.
    Yellow is the new Black.
  • Duffer65
    Duffer65 Posts: 341
    smidsy wrote:
    You need to develop your core and leg muscles to provide a stable platform. This only comes with time and is developed by doing the very task you say you do not do often....ride out of the saddle.

    It's the same as anything, the more you do it the more you can.

    When I started I was exactly as you describe but just by getting out there and turning the pedals mile after mile on varying terrain and using in and out of the saddle pedalling as necessary it just starts to come together.

    All your weight (well the vast majority) is going through your legs when you stand so you have to be able to take that as well as drive forwards - just keep practising and it will develop.

    Also the more you cycle the fitter you get and the less you weigh..so it all comes together to make things a little easier over time.

    Sorry there is no easy or quick solution.

    +1 ^^This.

    I am the same regarding out of the saddle efforts, but I am getting a little better each time by doing exactly as smidsy says. If you find it too hard out of the saddle on hills at first do spells on the flat and build up to hills.
    Where would you be if you fell down a hole?.. Stuck down a hole... in the fog... Stuck down a hole, in the fog, at night... WITH AN OWL!
  • Melter
    Melter Posts: 49
    edited October 2012
    I had always been one for sitting in the saddle up most hills, then I started doing trips that incorporated more and more steep hills, this meant I had to stand up to get up them. I was in the same situation to start with, it was un practised, awkward and tiring...
    The thing that surprised me rather quickly that it is a learned technique, I'm better now due to strength to a degree, but I think that that my technique is better too.
    What I do now is climb almost every hill out of the saddle, it gives me time to think about what I'm doing without my pulse topping out on hills that are at my limit and gets me fit for thhe task. This doesn't amount to much, maybe 10 minutes out of the saddle on a 30 mile ride where it's "flat" kind of thing, but it is 10 minutes more than I had before.

    The things I've learned (for my style)
    Make sure you're in a high enough gear; really steep hills won't give you an option, 1st gear will likely be too high anyway : ), but as soon as I feel the cadence increase I go up a gear, you can change gear comfortably if you time it as you switch between legs. If my cadence gets too high out of the saddle I die a thousand deaths in about 4 seconds - watching Alberto Contador out of the saddle at a high cadence gives me chest pain just sitting on the couch.
    Pulling on the bars (fingers hooked under the hoods) while pushing with your legs is linked to the cadence issue. If I'm not pulling up on the bars ( left hand pulls up while left leg pushes I mean) then I feel I'm in too low a gear. For a comfortable ascent I find a light pull on the bars is ideal, so If I'm not pulling at all, and my body weight alone is turning the pedals over, I would try a higher gear. Again, on steep hills I'm pushing with all my might and pulling with all my might (also gasping with all my might).
    I'm not as young and fit as I used to be... Steep hills (ordnance survery chevron or double chevron ) are torture, my survival tactic is to slow my cadence as much as I can so that each leg has a chance to micro recover between strokes. Contador wouldn't be proud to say that, but there you are, this tactic is the only one that has allowed me to survive.
    I push my chest up and out as much as is comfortable, try not to hunch, then try to breath deep with the stomach and really expell the used air ( really expelling the air is something that I took from swimming, seems to help on the bike when nearing my limit too).
    As far as leaning forward or back, I can't find any point of note, if you're pulling hard on thhe bars and pushing hard with your legs, I find there isn't a choice...

    I used to think that climbing out of the saddle was an admition of defeat, my view has changed now.
  • adr82
    adr82 Posts: 4,002
    I think it took me over a year of riding to even attempt climbing out of the saddle, but what really helped me to get started on it was to begin alternating between the two positions on the way up even fairly short/gentle hills. Start off in the saddle, then change up a gear+stand up, stay like that until you start to feel uncomfortable and then drop back into the saddle+change back down. If it's a long hill, repeat it a few times. Then just gradually aim to increase the length of your spells out of the saddle, before too long you should be able to do it for a couple of minutes at a time.
  • Ron Stuart
    Ron Stuart Posts: 1,242
    Chances are those that look good out of the saddle have been cycling a lot longer that you and have developed the cycling specific strength required in such situations as short sharp hills where out of the saddle action may be required.

    There are still some tips though ->

    -Don't lean forward -> stay over the cranks
    -Push a bigger gear -> High RPM takes lots of effort out of the saddle
    -Keep the torso and chest open for breathing -> don't hunch down in a low position.

    Interesting as two of the best ever climbers had completely contrasting styles Pantani spent a lot of the time on the drops climbing out of the saddle whereas Contador stands upright on the tops.
    Also regards big gears, Hinault's (Le Blaireau) knees we never the same after churning big gears and in particular the 1980 Leige-Bastogne-Leige when the temperature plummeted and it snowed mind you he did win by 10 minutes :shock:

    There is no one style that suits all, it just has to be learnt and practise, practise and practise is the way. :wink:
  • ar24
    ar24 Posts: 17
    Duffer65 wrote:
    smidsy wrote:
    You need to develop your core and leg muscles to provide a stable platform. This only comes with time and is developed by doing the very task you say you do not do often....ride out of the saddle.

    +1 ^^This.

    I am the same regarding out of the saddle efforts, but I am getting a little better each time by doing exactly as smidsy says. If you find it too hard out of the saddle on hills at first do spells on the flat and build up to hills.

    Agreed. I'm new to cycling and am still trying to develop my core and leg muscles to be more stable....you'll get there!
  • LankyDJ
    LankyDJ Posts: 44
    You could always have a ride over to east lancs. I seem to spend half my life out of the saddle here in Ramsbottom.

    Then again I really suffer on long, flat rides.

    Sounds weird,but whenever I do these, I can find myself desperate to see a hill!!
  • oldwelshman
    oldwelshman Posts: 4,733
    Chances are those that look good out of the saddle have been cycling a lot longer that you and have developed the cycling specific strength required in such situations as short sharp hills where out of the saddle action may be required.

    There are still some tips though ->

    -Don't lean forward -> stay over the cranks
    -Push a bigger gear -> High RPM takes lots of effort out of the saddle
    -Keep the torso and chest open for breathing -> don't hunch down in a low position.
    Push a bigger is not such a good suggestion. You dont even know what gear the op is pushing already.
    If you use same gear out of saddle as when in sadddle it is quite easy and relaxed and can stay out of saddle longer, don't have to pedal faster. Also using a higher gear out of the saddle will increase his heart rate much more than if he is in a lower gear and also knacker his knees.
    For short efforts out of saddle such as sprint bigger gear may be ok but only for about 25 revs max, roughly same as for 250m sprint at end of race, knackered after that, lower gears out of saddle and 4 minutes is easily done.
    Look at Contador and others out of saddle, not grinding gears and just resting on bars not pulling up like when using big grears.
  • alihisgreat
    alihisgreat Posts: 3,872
    Chances are those that look good out of the saddle have been cycling a lot longer that you and have developed the cycling specific strength required in such situations as short sharp hills where out of the saddle action may be required.

    There are still some tips though ->

    -Don't lean forward -> stay over the cranks
    -Push a bigger gear -> High RPM takes lots of effort out of the saddle
    -Keep the torso and chest open for breathing -> don't hunch down in a low position.
    Push a bigger is not such a good suggestion. You dont even know what gear the op is pushing already.
    If you use same gear out of saddle as when in sadddle it is quite easy and relaxed and can stay out of saddle longer, don't have to pedal faster. Also using a higher gear out of the saddle will increase his heart rate much more than if he is in a lower gear and also knacker his knees.
    For short efforts out of saddle such as sprint bigger gear may be ok but only for about 25 revs max, roughly same as for 250m sprint at end of race, knackered after that, lower gears out of saddle and 4 minutes is easily done.
    Look at Contador and others out of saddle, not grinding gears and just resting on bars not pulling up like when using big grears.

    Yeah I didn't make myself clear.. should have said "don't push too small a gear" instead.
  • CleeRider
    CleeRider Posts: 304
    There are still some tips though ->

    -Don't lean forward -> stay over the cranks
    -Push a bigger gear -> High RPM takes lots of effort out of the saddle
    -Keep the torso and chest open for breathing -> don't hunch down in a low position.

    Thanks for those tips. I put them to use on my ride this morning having never really got out of the saddle before as my upper legs/thighs felt weak. They worked a treat. I found myself becoming more confident/strong and by the end of the ride was staying out of the saddle for longer. My tip for others is to find any opportunity on a ride to get out of the saddle and practice. Every time I saw a small rise in the road which may have only lasted 10-20 meters I stood up and powered over it instead of perhaps changing to the next lower gear and spinning over it at a lower speed.

    Thanks!
  • Just a couple of things that true or not I believe, eg Maybe Placebo.
    I must add here that I did alright on hills.
    Having a dance on the pedals is like going down to a lower gear.
    The other thing riders have a kind of rhythm on a climb, sit in the saddle for so long.... Stand-up and have a dance on the pedals for so long on.
    It isn't a rigid thing you just know sit...dance. You will get it.
  • I got a fixed gear recently and this has made so much difference. Having to stand up or fall off means that I stand up much more than I did.
  • mallorcajeff
    mallorcajeff Posts: 1,489
    remove the saddle.
  • Lightning
    Lightning Posts: 360
    remove the saddle.
    :lol:
  • FlacVest
    FlacVest Posts: 100
    Just a couple of things that true or not I believe, eg Maybe Placebo.
    I must add here that I did alright on hills.
    Having a dance on the pedals is like going down to a lower gear.
    The other thing riders have a kind of rhythm on a climb, sit in the saddle for so long.... Stand-up and have a dance on the pedals for so long on.
    It isn't a rigid thing you just know sit...dance. You will get it.

    +1; there's a sweet spot you can find that lets you climb comfortably, given that you're in good enough shape to do it. The bike moves from side to side about 5 or so inches, and it's a comfortable cadence, maybe around 80 or so? For me, it depends on how steep the hill is; I find that i have to slow down a bit to find it, but once I dial it in I'm good to go.

    If you need to shift up, do so at the bottom of the stroke, so there isn't as much pressure being applied to the chain when it moves.
  • Some great advice here so far... Applied some of it yesterday and it made a huge difference to my ride /averages etc. Think I was always too 'flat out' out the saddle before so really enjoyed flying up slight inclines.
  • Pross
    Pross Posts: 40,441
    Sitting down to change gears is no bad thing. Before the introduction of STI gears you would have had to sit down and I still think it's bad technique to change gears whilst out of the saddle.

    Riding out of the saddle takes some getting used to as you are supporting your body weight through your legs making it hard work but it gives you the ability to use more of your body to put the power down. If you are happier sitting down whilst climbing and your gearing allows you to do so then it isn't essential to get out of the saddle. Plenty of top riders now take that approach - one of them even won the Tour this year.
  • Thanks for all the advice,I've taken onboard the bits about not leaning forward and not spinning too fast,already my breathing feels more comfortable.

    P.S. I'm not looking to be a great hillclimber,I would just like the option of being able to cycle out of the saddle without sudden fatigue.
  • Changing gear while standing on the pedals..............Don't go there!
    Recipe for disaster.

    OK ... If you have the skill, confidence and enough forward momentum to manage the gear change without all your weight on the pedals fine.

    Get it wrong and broken chain or/and broken bits of you.
  • Changing gear while standing on the pedals..............Don't go there!
    Recipe for disaster.

    OK ... If you have the skill, confidence and enough forward momentum to manage the gear change without all your weight on the pedals fine.

    Get it wrong and broken chain or/and broken bits of you.
    Actually someone mentioned earlier in the thread and it worked for me... Change gear when your right foot is at the bottom of the revolution... I changed one at a time like this and it worked, VERY smoothly!
  • mamba80
    mamba80 Posts: 5,032
    the only thing you really need to practice is to maintain your fwd momentum when you first rise out of the saddle (pull up on the pedal stroke and push hard down and fwd as you first start) otherwise some poor sod behind you has to take evasive action as you come to a halt in front of him/her- and try and ride in a straight line as well.
    Depends on how hi or lo your cadence is, if you wish to change gear and the gaps between the sprockets ie its easy between 15 and 16, not so easy between 24 and 28.
  • adr82
    adr82 Posts: 4,002
    Changing gear while standing on the pedals..............Don't go there!
    Recipe for disaster.

    OK ... If you have the skill, confidence and enough forward momentum to manage the gear change without all your weight on the pedals fine.

    Get it wrong and broken chain or/and broken bits of you.
    Also fun if your chain decides to slip, then it's usually a case of "Mr Knee, meet Mr Handlebar!" :)
  • greentea
    greentea Posts: 180
    The rule of thumb is that sitting down is meant to mean you reserve more energy, as it takes more energy to push forward uphill whilst standing up.

    However, im a big guy, 6ft 2, 20stone, and ive often found it easier standing up to get up steep hills. For months i stuck to the 'seated is best' approach but in the end i started getting out of the saddle and standing/stomping on the pedals with each stroke and actually found it easier. I think the more you weigh the better it is to stand rather than sit going uphill as sitting means you put all of your weight on the back wheel which means you need more power to push you up. Standing upright means you transfer the weight centered and over the front wheel and (to me at least) feels like the power im putting down actually pushes me forward better, because ive taken the weight off the back wheel.

    But each to their own, seated or standing, it only matters to you and how you feel when riding.
  • I use a combination. I normally stay seated until it hurts too much and then stand until it hurts too much and then sit until it hurts too much etc....

    :)
    "You really think you can burn off sugar with exercise?" downhill paul
  • greentea
    greentea Posts: 180
    Dashik wrote:
    For me it all hurts too much :D


    It gets easier :D
  • andy46
    andy46 Posts: 1,666
    I also can't seem to get out of the saddle, and someone has mentioned weight. I'm only 9st10lbs so is this a disadvantage to me?
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  • I'm still a firm believer in sitting it out in the saddle in a moderate gear until you feel your legs getting a bit tired, then shift up a gear and get out of the saddle for a bit. I change to a higher gear when out of the saddle because I find that I end up pushing through thin air if I stay in the same gear and I don't seem to make any more progress than I would if I was still sitting down. I let my legs recover for a minute or too and then sit back down.

    I also try to inhale when bringing the pedal up over and then exhale when pushing the other leg down... Rather than panicking about the climb, just relax your shoulders and try and keep your breathing in a pattern. The moment you start puffing and panting I think your body starts to tense up and it doesn't help at all.

    It may not be the best technique but for now, it works for me.