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will I ever climb Rosedale Chimney?

keef66keef66 Posts: 13,123
I grew up in Yorkshire but live in East Anglia now. For reasons I can't remember, climbing Rosedale Chimney Bank has been on my bucket list for a while. Last week I made it past the 2 zig-zag bends before blowing up completely, and mullering my cleats pushing the bike the rest of the way to the top.

That's my best effort to date. Trouble is, I came to this rather late in life and I'll be 62 in a couple of months. I've already geared down to a 30t chainring and a 32t cassette, I'm close to my optimal weight, and I've been choosing lumpy rides for a few weeks and really pushing myself on the hills.

Is there any way in god's earth that I'll ever climb the thing? Or should I just accept that it's beyond me now? There's nothing approaching that brutal gradient round here to train on. Could I simulate the effort required by loading the bike up with bricks and climbing a lesser hill? Or just do hill repeats in an impossibly hard gear? Am I on a hiding to nothing trying to achieve significant improvement in sustainable power at my age?
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  • drlodgedrlodge Posts: 4,826
    Depends how badly you want it...train more and train harder if you really want it I guess.

    I find that a few days cycling on challenging terrain really helps my fitness, as you'd expect. So may be book a weeks holiday in the Dales or somewhere hilly and hit all the hills there, have a day or two taper before trying again. That way you should be in peak (or Dales) condition.
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  • Difficult to say without knowing your overall fitness. I would suggest that in terms of gearing you may have reached a limit, if you can't get up it in a 30/32, I doubt anything lower will make the difference. Your best bet is possibly to build up your anaerobic capacity through short hill intervals, 2-3 minutes as hard as you can manage without blowing up. Do a couple of sessions per week of those for a month or so and have another go at it.
  • keef66keef66 Posts: 13,123
    @ drlodge: that's what I did last week. 3 days riding round the N Yorks Moors. According to Garmin I only clocked up 130 miles, but climbed nearly 4000m. Back home on Friday my legs were killing me, so I'm assuming something happened in the muscles, but do I have to keep upping the workload to consolidate any gains?

    @Midlands Grimpeur: agreed; that gearing got me up the approach and the first 2 hairpins, so I know it's low enough for the gradient, but I just couldn't sustain the required effort any longer. The Garmin tells me I hit my MHR just before I keeled over, so I think I did give it my all. Think I will try some hill intervals at 95% MHR and see how long I can sustain that.
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 26,816
    My advice is to learn to do a track stand.
    The problem is not power or fitness, but your ability to stay upright when you are moving at less than 5 km/h whilst trying to balance the bike that wants to do a wheelie. The better your bike skills, the more confident you will feel, the less likely you are to put your foot down as the speed gets too slow.
  • keef66keef66 Posts: 13,123
    Believe me, staying upright while going very slowly wasn't the problem. That's how I got as far as I did. But I reached the point where I simply couldn't push the pedals round any more, I was having palpitations and I thought I might vomit.
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 26,816
    keef66 wrote:
    Believe me, staying upright while going very slowly wasn't the problem. That's how I got as far as I did. But I reached the point where I simply couldn't push the pedals round any more, I was having palpitations and I thought I might vomit.

    You are doing it wrong.
    Let's break the problem down.
    It's 30% so if you go at 5 km/h, you have a VAM of 1500 mt/h which is not sustainable and you will collapse and vomit after a couple of minutes, unless you are a serious athlete.
    If you go at 3 km/h, then your VAM is 900 mt/h, which might be sustainable for 5-10 minutes.
    If you could pedal up at 1 km/h, then the VAM would be 300 mt/h and you would probably be able to have a conversation whilst you go up, but that's academic.

    So it becomes a problem of balance, because it is quite difficult to move at 3 km/h or less without falling off. Hence my advice. If you can stay upright whilst not moving, then you might be able to stay upright whilst moving slowly, which means you might be able to go up without dying.

    Clear?
  • mercia_manmercia_man Posts: 1,426
    My belief is that you can get up anything if you choose the right gearing. In around 30 years of loaded cycle touring, often in mountains, I've never had to get off and walk, apart from off-road sections. This rule is even more applicable when riding a tandem. Getting up a really steep gradient without walking on my tourer or tandem means a mountain bike style bottom gear of around 23 inches or even lower. This allows you to stay in the saddle and spin for all but the very steepest bits. Some may sneer at "granny gears" but it's quite satisfying to ride past walking roadies when you are on a touring bike with four panniers.

    Sounds like you may have a triple chainset with a 30 little ring. Your inability to get up Rosedale on 30/32 (25 inches) would suggest you could use a lower bottom gear. If it's a standard road triple with a 74 BCD little ring, a 26 or 28 ring would bolt straight on and give a usefully lower bottom of 21 or 23 inches.
  • cougiecougie Posts: 22,512
    You need to do hill repeats.

    Find a steep hill that stretches you. Ride up and recover on the way down. Repeat a few more times.

    Do this twice a week and then come Back.
  • keef66keef66 Posts: 13,123
    When I fitted the 32t cassette I thought I'd gone low enough, but it's way too spinny for anything round here, so I couldn't really test it. You are correct about the triple with a 74 bcd granny ring, so the smaller chainring is a great (and cheap) idea and one I might try on my next attempt.

    Or I could transplant the 9 spd MTB rear mech from the winter bike and buy a 10sp 36t cassette...

    @ Ugo: You describe my dilemma perfectly, and according to Garmin I was attempting to get up it at about 5km/h. Hopefully I can do it at 3km/h with more training and lower gears...
  • mercia_manmercia_man Posts: 1,426
    Keef, I’d definitely give the smaller inner a go. It’s a cheap modification and might just make the difference between success and walking. I’ve never had any issue with balance when using such a small gear.
  • keef66keef66 Posts: 13,123
    £11.50 for a smaller granny ring from Spa seems cheap when you consider it cost a tenner to replace the cleats I mutilated by walking...

    (I was thinking I might be going back to SPDs and MTB shoes with recessed cleats)
  • paulwoodpaulwood Posts: 228
    I managed to reduce my speed to zero mph going up Rosedale Chimney and performed a very inelegant sideways flop into the grass bank.

    A possible suggestion is to ditch the clipless pedals and use flat ones. Some loss of power perhaps but much easier to ride very slowly confident you can get your foot down quickly if it goes wrong. I'm trying this on my MTB and finding I can complete climbs I was apprehensive about riding clipped in
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 26,816
    paulwood wrote:

    A possible suggestion is to ditch the clipless pedals and use flat ones. Some loss of power perhaps but much easier to ride very slowly confident you can get your foot down quickly if it goes wrong. I'm trying this on my MTB and finding I can complete climbs I was apprehensive about riding clipped in

    Yes, either that, or become more skilled at riding very slowly when clipped in.
    I stress it again, the key to tackling >25% climbs is not power but technique... how slow are you capable of pedalling and keeping control of the bike, before falling off or unclipping by instinct?
  • mercia_manmercia_man Posts: 1,426
    I think a switch to SPD pedals and mountain bike shoes might help. It’s what I’ve always used. The main thing is to have a low enough gear to keep moving. Trying to do a hill start on a 20 per cent plus climb is a nightmare.
  • timothywtimothyw Posts: 2,482
    Might be worth borrowing/hiring a mountain bike with proper small gears, they're meant for this sort of thing.

    I'd suggest some training riding a single speed/fixed gear on hills. Climbing steep hills demands that you are able to apply force around the whole pedal stroke, where on the flatlands weak parts of your stroke are somewhat masked by the momentum which carries you along.

    I did Bison Hill on a 42x23 gear a couple of years back (a considerably easier climb than the chimney!) and it was hard work, but it was definitely a factor that I had been commuting on a single speed, so I was confident that I could keep the gear turning even at a very low cadence.

    Ugo is right, the key is going slower than you have been.
  • DeVlaeminckDeVlaeminck Posts: 7,807
    Assuming you'd need to get out of the saddle to keep the front end on the ground though there is a limit on how slow you can go before just being out of the saddle for a while becomes tiring irrespective of how tough the gradient - how long is Rosedale about a km of fairly consistent steep stuff ? - might be worth practicing long out of the saddle climbs as if you get it down to 3kmh that's 20 minutes standing which is tough.
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  • svettysvetty Posts: 1,904
    You could try doing a few trial runs up Caper Hill. Once you can manage this OK, you'll be OK on the Chimney :D

    Seriously though, Ugo is spot on in this thread......
    FFS! Harden up and grow a pair :D
  • N0bodyOfTheGoatN0bodyOfTheGoat Posts: 4,874
    Use the filter at https://www.doogal.co.uk/strava.php to find your closest steep incline for hill reps.

    I rarely use my local inclines during the summer, I'm far more interested in climbing bigger hills, but this little loop would be perfect for your requirements.
    https://www.strava.com/segments/16314395

    Six reps up Dell Rd using 34/32 took me just over 15mins last month... It was hard work despite using my easiest gear up the climb!
    ================
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  • It doesn't matter how slow you go, if it's too steep for you to turn the pedals then you can track stand all day but unless you can turn pedals you won't get up a hill. Train, mega low gearing and good luck!
  • webboowebboo Posts: 4,264
    I suspect most of the folks telling the best way to ride Rosedale Chimney have never even seen it.The first time I rode it, I was with 2 juniors who were on British National Team, someone who rode as domestic Professional and later won the Vets national champs plus lots of other classy riders. Out of 20 or so riders only 2 got up without putting a foot down.
  • I went up it a couple of weeks ago. At first I thought it was easy. Then it stiffened up and I thought it was hard. Then it eased off a little and I thought I'd cracked it, but reared up again and there is a real sting in the tail. I was glad to make it to the top.

    I was in the car. Don't fancy it on a bike.
  • keef66keef66 Posts: 13,123
    Well those 2 posts cheered me up a lot :D
  • ibr17xviiibr17xvii Posts: 969
    Don't know the climb but looking at the Strava segment & what Simon Warren says about it don't think there's any shame in not being able to get up that no matter what your fitness is like, or gearing is etc etc.

    I certainly wouldn't fancy it.
  • hdowhdow Posts: 172
    As has been said Ugo is spot on as usual.

    From crossing the river at the bottom to the car park at the break of slope is about 1.2km with 160m of climb. Only bits of it are 30%. The average is half that. I took some from my running club on a bike ride that included the climb and 4 out of 10 cleaned it. we then did the climb out of Farndale from Lodge Farm. I've since done it on a road bike and a TT bike both with standard chainsets. My power figures are poor by the way.

    So you want to get up it. As Ugo says you need good balance. Good doesn't mean as good as most. It means track stand good. My almost point of failure on my TT bike was when I actually ground to a halt after the two bends. Thats when you either get going again or put your foot down.

    As to training for it you will need two types of hill sessions. Firstly long challenging hills that take 8 to 15 minutes. Work sustainable hard throughout. Keep your breathing under control. No gasping or panting. You will be breathing hard and fast. Expect some lactate burn in your legs but not much. You will be able to speak six syllables uninterrupted. Fewer you are going too hard, more and you are taking it easy. Accumulate between 20 and 45 minutes of effort. Start with 20 and build over the weeks. Recovery is the ride back down. That should sort out most of the hill. Secondly do hill reps that are 2 to 6 minutes in length. Expect that lactate burn, expect to lose control of your breathing during the reps. Don't expect to speak. They are not pleasant. Accumulate 10 to 20 minutes of reps. Again start low and build the volume over time. Recovery will be the same as the time it takes to do the rep. These reps will get you up the short but very steep sections. Have at least two clear days between these sessions. Be cautious and build reps duration's gradually. And practice track stands
  • ibr17xviiibr17xvii Posts: 969
    My advice is to learn to do a track stand.
    The problem is not power or fitness, but your ability to stay upright when you are moving at less than 5 km/h whilst trying to balance the bike that wants to do a wheelie. The better your bike skills, the more confident you will feel, the less likely you are to put your foot down as the speed gets too slow.

    This is always what I find most difficult on a ridiculously steep gradient & a problem I've not really been able to solve apart from either just grind away or put a foot down.
  • mrb123mrb123 Posts: 3,732
    For anyone who has done both, how does it compare to Hardknott? (or any of the other steep Lakeland passes)
  • craigus89craigus89 Posts: 887
    I rode the struggle after 80 miles of a proper lumpy sportive whilst I had been trying to keep up with riders who were far better than me, I was absolutely smashed by the time I got there.

    I know the gradient isn't quite as severe but I was going slower than I would have been had I walked it. Getting up there had nothing to do with my fitness but the fact that I could stay upright while out of the saddle at super slow speeds, as has been pointed out already.
  • keef66keef66 Posts: 13,123
    Hdow wrote:
    ...
    So you want to get up it. As Ugo says you need good balance. ...

    As to training for it you will need two types of hill sessions. Firstly long challenging hills that take 8 to 15 minutes. Work sustainable hard throughout. Keep your breathing under control. No gasping or panting. You will be breathing hard and fast. Expect some lactate burn in your legs but not much. You will be able to speak six syllables uninterrupted. Fewer you are going too hard, more and you are taking it easy. Accumulate between 20 and 45 minutes of effort. Start with 20 and build over the weeks. Recovery is the ride back down. That should sort out most of the hill. Secondly do hill reps that are 2 to 6 minutes in length. Expect that lactate burn, expect to lose control of your breathing during the reps. Don't expect to speak. They are not pleasant. Accumulate 10 to 20 minutes of reps. Again start low and build the volume over time. Recovery will be the same as the time it takes to do the rep. These reps will get you up the short but very steep sections. Have at least two clear days between these sessions. Be cautious and build reps duration's gradually. And practice track stands

    Thanks for all that. Tricky round here to find long, challenging hills. Suspect I'll have to settle for longish, not particularly steep, but make them hard enough by choosing the right gear. I can think of a couple of places where you're climbing steadily for a couple of miles, so at 10mph that would take 12 minutes or so.

    Shorter steeper ones for the 2-6 minute intervals are available close to home.

    Think this is going to be an interesting exercise. I can feel a spreadsheet coming on!

    If I want to use HR as guide to effort, what % of MHR should I be aiming for with these 2 types of hill repeats?
  • keef66keef66 Posts: 13,123
    Craigus89 wrote:
    I rode the struggle after 80 miles of a proper lumpy sportive whilst I had been trying to keep up with riders who were far better than me, I was absolutely smashed by the time I got there.

    I know the gradient isn't quite as severe but I was going slower than I would have been had I walked it. Getting up there had nothing to do with my fitness but the fact that I could stay upright while out of the saddle at super slow speeds, as has been pointed out already.

    Looking at the Garmin log, in spite of the gradient and the SPD-SL cleats, I went slightly faster once I was off and pushing the bike :D So balance when riding very very slowly wasn't the issue.

    Coincidentally I had a routine blood test this morning, so I'm almost hoping they find I'm anaemic (again)
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 26,816
    keef66 wrote:
    So balance when riding very very slowly wasn't the issue.
    I rest my case as you refuse to acknowledge the obvious
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