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Scientific reason for getting better as the climb goes on

neilo23neilo23 Posts: 783
Why do I start a long climb with difficulty and find it easier as I go up and on? For example, today I'd been riding at a moderate pace for an hour so I was well warmed up before the first climb. The first 3km were only about 3% average and I found it hard going, the middle 3km were 7% and I found it even harder going, but the last 3km, about 5%, I was flying up and wishing that the hill wouldn't end.

I find this is generally the case. I understand that you need to find a rhythm but I actually feel stronger as the climb continues instead of (what I assume would be more logical) feeling weaker and weaker. Why is this?


  • What does the power meter say (I'm not assuming you have one)?
    IOW do you know if your subjective sensations are the same as the actual power output might suggest?

    Some people find different gradients easier/harder to ride on, e.g. they may not have appropriate gearing for steeper sections.

    Often people don't pace climbs well, hitting the lower slopes much harder than they think they are, then they are forced to recover before eventually being able to settle into their actual threshold level, and as the end is in sight gain a little psychological boost.
  • neilo23neilo23 Posts: 783
    Hi Alex, no, I don't have a power meter. And if I did I'd probably be too ashamed to post my readings here :-)
    The older I get the better I get at pacing myself and I tend to take it easy at the start of a climb as I've never been a mountain goat instead of going for it from the start.

    My smallest gear is quite low, 34 x 26, and I'm about 84 kg at the moment. I've been off the bike for a few months which doesn't help. Ten years ago I was training more (and living near to proper mountains) and weighed 10 kg less and obviously climbed better due to youth, fitness and weight, but still found the last section of climbs easier.

    I'm personally convinced it's a mental thing. The finish is in sight way of thinking spurring me on. Your suggestion seems to support my suspicions.
  • VslowpaceVslowpace Posts: 189
    Is it due to the sudden increase in activity that causes the heart rate to increase quickly. Once the BPM has stabilised and you are in a rhythm it starts to get / feel easier. That's what I find, I also find the same for the first minute or so of a TT.
  • Psychology can also have a big impact, at the bottom your still relatively 'cold' but you know you have the entire climb still ahead of you, in the middle your feeling the pain in your legs but you know you still have a good way to go. Closer to the top you know you don't have very far to go so you're able to block out the pain much more effectively.
  • diydiy Posts: 6,680
    As others have said, its takes a bit of time to get the CV up and when it does come up, it has to make up for he deficit of fuel you already used when you first upped your load. Then its the knowledge that you are almost there and can use up any you left in reserve and lastly the physics of pushing an object up an incline plane allowing for friction etc. which I'm sure you can google and find some videos on.
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