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Replicating hill climbing on a turbo

Jules WinnfieldJules Winnfield Posts: 299
edited September 2014 in Training, fitness and health
For me when I'm actually climb hills, I am more of a high cadence, seated type of cyclist instead of an out of the saddle, churning a bigger gear type rider.

So what is the best way to replicate both types of hill climbing style on a turbo trainer and what sort of cadences (ball park figure because I know everyone spins the chainset with a different rpm) should I be looking at.
Ribble Ultralite Racing 7005, Campagnolo Veloce groupset, Campagnolo Khamsin G3 wheel set

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  • RChungRChung Posts: 163
    No turbo currently on the market can adequately replicate the forces you experience while climbing. Mostly, that's because hills vary in steepness, so the power and inertia vary, while most turbos (all mechanical turbos and many electronic turbos) have a fixed relationship between wheel speed and power, and all have fixed inertial load. Some electronically-controlled turbos can vary the relationship between wheel speed and power (typically, by something they might call "slope") but none vary the inertial load.

    So when you're training on a turbo, forget about cadence, or climbing. You can't replicate it. What you can replicate is the range of power you need to produce. So just focus on that. If you have a power meter this is easier but if you don't just focus on wheel speed, even if the wheel speed isn't representative of the wheel speed you'll use while climbing.
  • RChung wrote:
    So when you're training on a turbo, forget about cadence, or climbing. You can't replicate it. What you can replicate is the range of power you need to produce. So just focus on that. If you have a power meter this is easier but if you don't just focus on wheel speed, even if the wheel speed isn't representative of the wheel speed you'll use while climbing.

    I think I understand what you are saying RChung. The biggest climb I have around my area is about 1.5 miles long and takes me about 7 minutes to get up it and my speed is around 9 to 10 mph. I train with a HRM and usually I'm going up this climb between 85 - 90% of my maxHR. So if I can replicate a 9 to 10 mph speed on my turbo with the gears of the bike whilst hitting 85 - 90% of my maxHR then it should feel the same I reckon.

    I will try it tomorrow. It might work but it might not but it's worth a try.
    Ribble Ultralite Racing 7005, Campagnolo Veloce groupset, Campagnolo Khamsin G3 wheel set
  • RChung wrote:
    No turbo currently on the market can adequately replicate the forces you experience while climbing. Mostly, that's because hills vary in steepness, so the power and inertia vary, while most turbos (all mechanical turbos and many electronic turbos) have a fixed relationship between wheel speed and power, and all have fixed inertial load. Some electronically-controlled turbos can vary the relationship between wheel speed and power (typically, by something they might call "slope") but none vary the inertial load.

    So when you're training on a turbo, forget about cadence, or climbing. You can't replicate it. What you can replicate is the range of power you need to produce. So just focus on that. If you have a power meter this is easier but if you don't just focus on wheel speed, even if the wheel speed isn't representative of the wheel speed you'll use while climbing.

    Not sure how accurate this answer is.

    Although it will likely be impossible to replicate any given hill 100% some turbos do let you ride to gradients - the Wahoo Kickr does this. Its possible to set a slope %age and even the wind speed. The Kickr will then control the resistance. The steeper the gradient you select the more watts you have to generate to go at any given speed.
  • davidofdavidof Posts: 2,512
    For me when I'm actually climb hills, I am more of a high cadence, seated type of cyclist instead of an out of the saddle, churning a bigger gear type rider.

    So what is the best way to replicate both types of hill climbing style on a turbo trainer and what sort of cadences (ball park figure because I know everyone spins the chainset with a different rpm) should I be looking at.

    For a high cadence, seated type of cyclist just select the bike gear that puts you in your cadence range with the watts you would be generating on the climb. If you want to churn a bigger gear, select a bigger gear.

    Simples.
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  • RChung wrote:
    So when you're training on a turbo, forget about cadence, or climbing. You can't replicate it. What you can replicate is the range of power you need to produce. So just focus on that. If you have a power meter this is easier but if you don't just focus on wheel speed, even if the wheel speed isn't representative of the wheel speed you'll use while climbing.

    I think I understand what you are saying RChung. The biggest climb I have around my area is about 1.5 miles long and takes me about 7 minutes to get up it and my speed is around 9 to 10 mph. I train with a HRM and usually I'm going up this climb between 85 - 90% of my maxHR. So if I can replicate a 9 to 10 mph speed on my turbo with the gears of the bike whilst hitting 85 - 90% of my maxHR then it should feel the same I reckon.

    I will try it tomorrow. It might work but it might not but it's worth a try.

    As Robert (RChung) mentioned don't worry about your cadence or speed. You want to focus on replicating the intensity that you ride at on this or other hills. Given that your bike is also ~level and when climbing it's an angle this is another reason you can't replicate hills on a turbo.

    That said, i used to ride my bike on a motorised treadmill set to 8% and about 15 km/hr, which was hard work!
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  • RChung wrote:
    No turbo currently on the market can adequately replicate the forces you experience while climbing. Mostly, that's because hills vary in steepness, so the power and inertia vary, while most turbos (all mechanical turbos and many electronic turbos) have a fixed relationship between wheel speed and power, and all have fixed inertial load. Some electronically-controlled turbos can vary the relationship between wheel speed and power (typically, by something they might call "slope") but none vary the inertial load.


    OK - the power absorbed is proportional to wheel speed but you can vary the relationship between wheel speed and cadence by changing gear! To simulate grinding up a climb, keep the wheel speed constant but change up until you are pedalling at the correct cadence.
  • Tom DeanTom Dean Posts: 1,723
    Barbarossa wrote:
    To simulate grinding up a climb, keep the wheel speed constant
    Grinding up a hill would mean the wheel speed was less constant surely?

    Wheel speed is one small part of the differences people find between riding on the flat, uphill, in and out of the saddle, turbo vs rollers etc. These seem to affect different people in different ways.

    As above power vs duration is the key and you can replicate that anywhere. If the specific details of riding this one hill are so important you can go out and replicate them exactly! You will also get fitter through a well-rounded programme. Cover all the bases.
  • I am no expert but just got a BKOOL turbo(cheaper to order and get delivered from Spain than locally)

    You can even try now pay in 30 days.

    I know the BKOOL is harder than being on the road, it can follow a GPX of your ride and simulate the ride. (no idea what percentage of accuracy though)
  • RChung wrote:
    No turbo currently on the market can adequately replicate the forces you experience while climbing. Mostly, that's because hills vary in steepness, so the power and inertia vary, while most turbos (all mechanical turbos and many electronic turbos) have a fixed relationship between wheel speed and power, and all have fixed inertial load. Some electronically-controlled turbos can vary the relationship between wheel speed and power (typically, by something they might call "slope") but none vary the inertial load.

    So when you're training on a turbo, forget about cadence, or climbing. You can't replicate it. What you can replicate is the range of power you need to produce. So just focus on that. If you have a power meter this is easier but if you don't just focus on wheel speed, even if the wheel speed isn't representative of the wheel speed you'll use while climbing.

    There's a first. Something I completely agree with you on :wink:

    I used my Tacx VR trainer for training for "Alpe D'HuZes" but, honestly, it's nothing like the real thing. What it did do for me is help prepare me for mental challenge of doing the Alpe 6 times in a day - from the video I felt like I knew the place. I could also practice delivering the power I needed for such extended periods. It didn't prepare me for how emotionally tough doing an event like Alpe D'HuZes is or the extremes of temperature (obviously)
    ROAD < Scott Foil HMX Di2, Volagi Liscio Di2, Jamis Renegade Elite Di2, Cube Reaction Race > ROUGH
  • bahzobbahzob Posts: 2,195
    My experience is that, if you have a power meter, you can train extremely effectively for climbing mountains using a turbo.

    I entered the Marmotte and didn't have a clue about how to tackle the climbs and, living in the UK, nothing nearby on which to train. Browsing the internet for advice I found a post from someone who had improved from 8+hours to 7 hours flat over 3 years (full ride times,including Glandon descent) using his power meter as a guide. I got in contact with him and he kindly sent shared his data. I used this to make a plan for a 7 hour 30 ride. This gave me a target w/kg+duration repeats and I spent much of the preceding months on turbo/rollers simply getting used to this effort. When I did the "real" thing I simply aimed to replicate the power numbers I already knew I was capable of. It worked perfectly, my ride time was 7:34, top 350 overall, not bad for a 50 year debutant. and I thoroughly enjoyed the whole event.

    Training was more than just hitting the power. It included eating/drinking,recovery and cadence. Also the mental stress/heat of doing 1-2 hour non-stop hard sessions on a turbo is the closest I have experienced to doing long climbs.

    Cadence is key. I rode the event trying to hit the same cadence I trained at. I did do some "real" hill climbs but used these mainly to check my bike setup/gearing was correct for the gradients I would encounter. This experience convinced me to use a triple which meant that I could stick to my power plan, simply reacting to changes in gradient by changing gear. (Demonstrated by the fact that on the climbs the power was pretty much flat and "normalised" power within 5-10W of actual)

    This is critical. If you have the right gearing and your bike fit is correct then you have a good chance of replicating your training and doing well. Basically you are in control of the event. If on the other hand you train at 80rpm but climb at 50rpm then the mountain is the boss and much of your training is wasted.

    Bottom line is first rule of training is specificity. This is more than just hitting a power number. With a little imagination you can replicate conditions that are impossible to find in your local area.
    Martin S. Newbury RC
  • cyco2cyco2 Posts: 593
    bahzob wrote:
    My experience is that, if you have a power meter, you can train extremely effectively for climbing mountains using a turbo..................imagination you can replicate conditions that are impossible to find in your local area.

    Those two quotes says it all.
    So go ahead OP'er and do your research with a hrm because that's all you'll have to go on when on the climb. I have monitored my hr for climbs on long touring rides and found by holding back my hr made for a much more comfortable experience.
    ...................................................................................................

    If you want to be a strong rider you have to do strong things.
    However if you train like a cart horse you'll race like one.
  • FatTedFatTed Posts: 1,205
    Bahzob, what power meter did you use with a triple?
  • The trouble is that you simply don't match the inertial effects - the fact that the bike slows quickly when pedal force drops off. I agree about the power meter. I set myself a target power and just stuck to it regardless of what anybody else was doing. I was the last person in my team to complete the first climb of Alpe D'Huez but the only one to complete all 6 climbs of the Alpe. I used my Stages PM and linked it to my "all-day" HR. I then rode to the PM (HR is pretty unreliable in the "excitement" of such an event). All of that said, the turbo (like any training) helps it just isn't much like the real thing.
    ROAD < Scott Foil HMX Di2, Volagi Liscio Di2, Jamis Renegade Elite Di2, Cube Reaction Race > ROUGH
  • frisbeefrisbee Posts: 691
    Could trying taking the flywheel off the trainer to lower the inertia.

    I set my turbo up wrong once and there was way too much pressure on the tyre, it was sort of like riding up hill but I think the tyre would have burst after a few minutes!
  • Mikey23Mikey23 Posts: 5,306
    Could try putting a book under the front wheel....
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