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CLimbing technique

StillGoingStillGoing Posts: 5,207
edited June 2010 in Road beginners
I'm having trouble with climbs trying to get my cadence set. If I'm struggling and try standing on the pedals I start accelerating, which soon leads to a build up of lactic acid in the quads forcing me back in the saddle until recovered. To try and stop the acceleration of my cadence, I try taking another gear or two with the obvious strain that then causes to the drive set. Momentarily taking pressure off the drive chain loses me speed forcing me to change back down again. I've tried getting in gear at the start of a climb but never get it right.

Do you experienced riders maintain a standard cadence or do you switch between gears? I know practice will improve things for me and I needs lots of it.
I ride a bike. Doesn't make me green or a tree hugger. I drive a car too.

Posts

  • Rich HcpRich Hcp Posts: 1,355
    I don't stand on the pedals

    (My ankle leg isn't strong enough to hold me up and pedal!)

    I just turn the pedals to suit me at the time and adjust the gears to suit and maintain my cadance.
    Richard

    Giving it Large
  • daveydave43daveydave43 Posts: 200
    cadence will differ between people.
    general held theory is that it's easier to climb with a higher cadence as less force is put through the pedal stroke due to a higher number of revolutions for the same amount of work done.
    switching down to lower gears and staying in the saddle will help, as will a good open position on the bars, allowing more oxygen in to get rid of inevitable lactic acid.

    if you find climbing particularly difficult, then you'll need some power training or shed weight somewhere.
    Go for the break
    Create a chaingang
    Make sure you don't break your chain
  • StillGoingStillGoing Posts: 5,207
    Shedding weight is on the agenda and part of the reason behind taking up cycling. I maintain an average cadence in the 80s for my routes no doubt due to my struggle with climbs. My flat rates are in the low 100s meaning my climbs must drop to the 70s..
    I ride a bike. Doesn't make me green or a tree hugger. I drive a car too.
  • guttertrashguttertrash Posts: 147
    What's the best way to do some power training, either on the bike or in the gym?

    There is one particular hill on my daily route that I'm just not getting any better on, so figure I just need more oomph from the muscles.
    Ribble New Sportive
    Specialized Pitch Pro
  • Rich HcpRich Hcp Posts: 1,355
    I never count my cadance, it varys from one person to another.

    I pedal at a rate and power that suits me
    Richard

    Giving it Large
  • SteKSteK Posts: 148
    RichHCP has got a spot on point - I used to ride with a guy who'd turn an enormous gear very slowly up the hills, I'd be spinning my legs and both taking the p*** out of each others techniques - but we'd get to the top at the same time!

    Perhaps consider riding out with some experienced guys? My boss was an ex-professional and when I started hooking up with him for training rides my technique and understanding improved ten-fold. I've since managed some actual mountains - if you'd told me I'd be able to climb the epic climbs when I first got on my bike I'd have bet you a months salary I wouldn't get half way!
  • StillGoingStillGoing Posts: 5,207
    I'm not built to be turning big gears on a climb and more suited to a small gear with higher cadence. But, I take the point and it's interesting to hear how others tackle hills. I should add that I also try and stand on teh pedals a little to try and get some relief for the backside. The seat on my Trek does not agree with me despite checking the fit of the bike.

    Some of the hills for you folks in the hillier areas of the UK must be soul destroying for beginners.

    A mountain is a whole new ball game and I just can't imagine the pain.
    I ride a bike. Doesn't make me green or a tree hugger. I drive a car too.
  • SteKSteK Posts: 148
    You know, when I started out I used to have lower back issues when climbing thanks to the fact my bike wasn't set up dead right. I used to have to stand up to stretch out the discomfort and that obviously meant more pressure on the legs. I know it's a slightly different issue but if you're having to stand up to ease the pressure off the censored perhaps a saddle change is in store?? On the grounds that you see pros with some strange saddles it's a very individual comfort thing - comfort is key!
  • StillGoingStillGoing Posts: 5,207
    I was talking to a work colleague who's just done a ride from Leics down to Devon in 11 hrs for charity and who advised the same thing. He also said you don't need to be forking out lots of money as some of the £30 saddles are better than the £100 plus stuff.

    I really do suffer and time in the saddle doesn't seem to ease it much. In fact it gets so painful that even making the effort to stand after a while is as painful as sitting down. If I forget and suddenly stand to get a quick sprint in the rush of circulation almost brings tears to the eyes.
    I ride a bike. Doesn't make me green or a tree hugger. I drive a car too.
  • Monty DogMonty Dog Posts: 20,614
    There are no fixed rules for climbing - it depends on your riding style, fitness and strength - what works for one doesn't necessarily work for another, but one thing's for sure, there's no golden bullet, you just have to get out there and ride more hills and work out what's right for you. A lot is down to judgement too - knowing what your limit is, being able to judge the gradient and how much effort you can make without blowing up.
    Make mine an Italian, with Campagnolo on the side..
  • Rich HcpRich Hcp Posts: 1,355
    I had saddle issues and changed to a Brooks Team pro, it's very comfortable (I use Shutt VR Std Shorts) and I've done 80 miles with no problems

    Again, different saddles suit different people
    Richard

    Giving it Large
  • StillGoingStillGoing Posts: 5,207
    No golden bullet? censored . Thanks for the responses all. I guess it's more miles and more hills and preferably with a better fitting seat.
    I ride a bike. Doesn't make me green or a tree hugger. I drive a car too.
  • federalskifederalski Posts: 93
    I have been finding lately that by staying very still in the upper body, so much so at times that I have to keep reminding myself to stay still as the shoulders want to get into it, and as others say, getting into a tempo that suits I am climbing alot better.

    I do still do little bursts standing up but only when I am feeling okay, if I know I am tired getting out of the saddle is like someone pulling the plug on what little energy I have left.

    Whereas I would have been without doubt faster at the bottom of the climb pushing on like I used to I find that staying still and turning at a rhythm that suits I am going over the top of hills much more in control of my breathing, faster overall and without crawling over the top nearly having a heart attack.

    I am not exactly finding it easy, just easier.
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,692
    There is a golden bullet.

    Ride up hills more and lose weight...

    But you knew that already!
  • cemastercemaster Posts: 9
    What's the best way to do some power training, either on the bike or in the gym?

    /quote]

    It all depends how much time you spend on cycling per week. Less training time means more cycling specific training. I do the power training as described in Paul van den Bosch's Het complete trainingshandboek voor de wielrenner. Not sure if it is published in English. For this session you'll need to find a hill which you can climb in about 3 minutes. Start with a thorough warming-up, focusing on a high cadence. Then do the intervals up the hill, with your cadence between 60 and 80 rpm, followed by a recovery-period where you cycling with a very high cadence. If you use a heart rate monitor roughly keep your heart rate 10 beats below your threshold. Äfter you've done all the intervals have a thorough cool-down, once again focusing on a high cadens.

    powertraining.jpg
  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 56,008 Lives Here
    Do whatever feels natural with regard to cadence and standing/seating. Everyone's different. However, there is no pain killer.

    This helped my climbing more than anything else:
    “Climbing mountains on a bike is not fun. So, to do it properly, you need to accept this fact and get on with it. I see so many people looking for that secret technique or training method that will make climbing painless and suffer-free. This will never happen. Training and techniques will make you suffer slightly faster up hills, not suffer any less. Climbing is painful, period. The sooner you just accept that and stop looking for ways around it, the better you will learn how to climb. Let the suffer-meter serve as your internal tachometer, letting you know how close to your limit you are. Accepting and really allowing yourself to feel that pain will make you a better rider. Trying to ignore it will distract you from the task at hand and make you ride slower."
  • guttertrashguttertrash Posts: 147
    cemaster wrote:
    What's the best way to do some power training, either on the bike or in the gym?

    /quote]

    It all depends how much time you spend on cycling per week. Less training time means more cycling specific training. I do the power training as described in Paul van den Bosch's Het complete trainingshandboek voor de wielrenner. Not sure if it is published in English. For this session you'll need to find a hill which you can climb in about 3 minutes. Start with a thorough warming-up, focusing on a high cadence. Then do the intervals up the hill, with your cadence between 60 and 80 rpm, followed by a recovery-period where you cycling with a very high cadence. If you use a heart rate monitor roughly keep your heart rate 10 beats below your threshold. Äfter you've done all the intervals have a thorough cool-down, once again focusing on a high cadens.

    powertraining.jpg

    Problem for me here is that my cadence is already pretty high while climbing this hill. Its a steep one that varies between 14% and 20% in places, and can only manage to spin at about 60rpm and that is in a 34-25 gear. If i drop a gear I have to get out of the saddle.
    Ribble New Sportive
    Specialized Pitch Pro
  • gbsgbs Posts: 450
    philthy3 wrote:
    I was talking to a work colleague who's just done a ride from Leics down to Devon in 11 hrs for charity and who advised the same thing. He also said you don't need to be forking out lots of money as some of the £30 saddles are better than the £100 plus stuff.

    I really do suffer and time in the saddle doesn't seem to ease it much. In fact it gets so painful that even making the effort to stand after a while is as painful as sitting down. If I forget and suddenly stand to get a quick sprint in the rush of circulation almost brings tears to the eyes.

    I am shocked by yr agonising experience. I have ridden 4 saddles and felt immediately comfortable on all 4. Having said that I must add have not exceeded 130k in any one day or more than 2 successive days of 100+k so you may wish to discount my following comment.

    Something wrong somewhere I suspect - time to see the Doc.
    vintage newbie, spinning away
  • neebneeb Posts: 4,413
    Like many people I alternate between sitting and standing when climbing. Sitting and spinning is supposedly more efficient, but alternating between sitting and standing gives some muscles some time to recover slightly so may be more efficient in a more general way. For a short to medium sized hill (there aren't really any big ones where I am) sometimes I'll do the first half standing and mashing a big gear out of the saddle and then sit and spin for the final bit (but still trying to put in just as much power). Other times I'll do it the other way around, spinning hard up the first half and then standing near the top for a final effort. Just depends how I feel and what I have been doing immediately beforehand. For genuinely long hills I'll alternate back and forward between the two, but keep the effort much more controlled (I guess close to anaerobic threshold). Either way, you usually need to be in a higher gear when standing and a lower one when sitting, in fact I have found that the bigger this difference (within limits) the better, i.e. really spinning when seated and really mashing when standing. This means you need to be confident at changing gears under strain:
    Momentarily taking pressure off the drive chain loses me speed forcing me to change back down again
    This is a bit of a knack - you need to time the gear change to fit in with your cadence and slightly ease the pressure on the pedal(s) without losing momentum. One of the most important things is to always anticipate that you will need to change before you start slowing down, so that you have a good amount of momentum during the change. As much as possible though, you want to avoid having to change chainrings at the front when climbing, so for short hills I usually make a decision at the bottom whether I will need to be in the small ring before the top, and if so I change there and then.

    P.S. I agree about doing what feels natural. I might practice at increasing my cadence in certain situations, but I actively avoid knowing what the numbers are, I think it would just put me off.
  • roger_merrimanroger_merriman Posts: 6,157
    on shallower climbs I sit, on shorter sharper climbs I stand, does depend on the climb it's self and ones self.
  • porker33porker33 Posts: 636
    The problem I seem to have with hills is afterwards...
    I get to ride around Westerham/Brastead/Toys hill area. As I am hard on myself and not wanting to fail, I get into a rhythm, counting each pedal stroke, which seems to give me an idea of only, how many more I need to get to the top.
    Once at the top and it flattens out, I often find I am cycling along at 10-11mph for a while, recovering instead of the normal 15-20mph flat road rate.....I appreciate, I need to practice, but this just shows me that just getting to the top of the hill is not enough, there are still things to work on.
  • neebneeb Posts: 4,413
    Once at the top and it flattens out, I often find I am cycling along at 10-11mph for a while, recovering instead of the normal 15-20mph flat road rate...
    IMHO it is normal, and good, to be recovering at the top of a hill as it shows you've been pushing hard enough! As you get fitter your recovery time will improve, so you will be able to get back up to speed again more quickly. In terms of total average speed, you will gain more from putting the effort in up the hills than you will lose from going a bit slower for a minute or so on the flat at the top. Of course the best hills immediately lead into descents and you can recover going down the other side!
  • bompingtonbompington Posts: 7,674
    real climbing technique
    FinityAndBeyond.jpg
  • StillGoingStillGoing Posts: 5,207
    gbs wrote:
    philthy3 wrote:
    I was talking to a work colleague who's just done a ride from Leics down to Devon in 11 hrs for charity and who advised the same thing. He also said you don't need to be forking out lots of money as some of the £30 saddles are better than the £100 plus stuff.

    I really do suffer and time in the saddle doesn't seem to ease it much. In fact it gets so painful that even making the effort to stand after a while is as painful as sitting down. If I forget and suddenly stand to get a quick sprint in the rush of circulation almost brings tears to the eyes.

    I am shocked by yr agonising experience. I have ridden 4 saddles and felt immediately comfortable on all 4. Having said that I must add have not exceeded 130k in any one day or more than 2 successive days of 100+k so you may wish to discount my following comment.

    Something wrong somewhere I suspect - time to see the Doc.

    It's just the Bontrager seat I have on the Trek as I'm fine with the seat on my Marin.
    I ride a bike. Doesn't make me green or a tree hugger. I drive a car too.
  • SteKSteK Posts: 148
    It's amazing how different saddles can make such a difference when essentially they're all a very similar shape! I was sat turning my legs for 25 minutes up a climb in France last year with my derriere feeling quite happy on my thin sliver of carbon saddle.

    When I stood up, the sudden circulation inspired a reaction that I'd normally save for my girlfriend and/or selected specialist websites ;)

    No one loves climbing that much, so I decided there was a definite lack of circulation prior to me standing up (if you pardon the pun) and plumped (if you pardon the pun) for a different seat...

    Thankfully for the staff at the pub at the top of the Cow and Calf the new seat appears to allow free circulation!
  • Cleat EastwoodCleat Eastwood Posts: 7,510
    cadence will differ between people.
    general held theory is that it's easier to climb with a higher cadence as less force is put through the pedal stroke due to a higher number of revolutions for the same amount of work done.
    .

    This is so true. I did a ride with a guy from a club round here and he noticed that I did all the climbs (varying between 8-10%) in 52/25. He said that I'd be better off going on the little ring and spinning. I tried it, and I have tried it since and for some reason I find it harder to do. I get the burn quicker and my cadence is woefully slow.

    There is a 17% round here too and I find it easier to do in 52/25, i can even manage it in 52/23 slower but wihout any leg ache at all.

    Its horses for courses, try out different styles and see what suits you best, like the best bikes we are all built differently.

    Tally Ho!
    The dissenter is every human being at those moments of his life when he resigns
    momentarily from the herd and thinks for himself.
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