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Want to go faster uphill? Ride single speed

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  • ProssPross Posts: 34,846
    I used to go uphill much faster when my lowest gear was 42x21 rather than my current 39x28 so there's obviously something in this grinding up in a high gear theory (I was on a relatively heavy antique 1990s steel frame then).

    We'll ignore that I'm 20kg heavier, 25 years older and don't cycle much anymore as it seems gear choice is the only factor in climbing speed
  • Imposter wrote:
    It's not quite as simple as that. High cadence also stresses muscles and low cadence also stresses your cardiovascular system. Your overall energy demand (decided by your weight + the gradient + the speed you wish to ride at) will be the same or similar regardless of your cadence. Obviously there is an optimum cadence for any given situation, but the answer is not nearly as binary as you suggest.

    Soz,didn't mean to suggest that only one system is stressed. Just that at a given power low cadence stresses muscles more relative to high cadence, and high cadence stresses heart/lungs more relative to low cadence. If that's correct, it would seem to make sense that training at low or high cadence might be a good way to stimulate adaptions in the system they stress more.
  • imposter2.0imposter2.0 Posts: 11,969
    Imposter wrote:
    It's not quite as simple as that. High cadence also stresses muscles and low cadence also stresses your cardiovascular system. Your overall energy demand (decided by your weight + the gradient + the speed you wish to ride at) will be the same or similar regardless of your cadence. Obviously there is an optimum cadence for any given situation, but the answer is not nearly as binary as you suggest.

    Soz,didn't mean to suggest that only one system is stressed. Just that at a given power low cadence stresses muscles more relative to high cadence, and high cadence stresses heart/lungs more relative to low cadence. If that's correct, it would seem to make sense that training at low or high cadence might be a good way to stimulate adaptions in the system they stress more.

    Training at a low cadence is fine if that's how you ride most of the time. Generally speaking, the best way to stimulate the most appropriate adaptation is to ride up hills using the same gears/cadence/effort levels that you want to train at. The laws of specificity usually apply in cases like these...
  • First.AspectFirst.Aspect Posts: 11,502
    landmannnn wrote:

    If spinning up a hill is ultimately faster (look at the pros) then it's unclear to me how training the muscles you need to grind up them is going to help.

    The "single speed for training" concept is one that just won't go away isn't it?

    Two things.
    1. It forces the you to work hard when they otherwise wouldn't, ie at times when you just spin easy if you had gears you go hard because it's that or get off and push. (Obviously you could choose to work hard with gears, but often you don't)
    2. It forces you to do low cadence training. I've don't know whether this is really a benefit, but I saw a video where mikel landa said he does it so I gess at least some pros do. If you also ride a geared bike I expect the variety is beneficial versus always spinning. Low cadence to stress the muscles, high cadence to stress the heart and lungs (stressing things causing adaption and all that)

    Obviously you don't need a single speed to do this, I think the key thing is that once you've chosen to ride it, your forced to do these things. Which for most people who don't actually train, is important.

    From personal exprience, before I got the road bike I had a single speed for getting about town and had a pretty steep hill on my way to work. I reckon this helped alot with climbing on the road bike.
    This is kind of what I was getting at.
  • Imposter wrote:
    Training at a low cadence is fine if that's how you ride most of the time. Generally speaking, the best way to stimulate the most appropriate adaptation is to ride up hills using the same gears/cadence/effort levels that you want to train at. The laws of specificity usually apply in cases like these...

    Agree you want to do the large majority of training at your normal cadence, though. But I think a bit of low/high (relative to your preferred) cadence probably helps too. Certainly you hear about good cyclists doing it.
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