First seriously hilly ride - I need help!

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robbo8989
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First seriously hilly ride - I need help!

Postby robbo8989 » Sun Mar 03, 2013 13:52 pm

I've just got back from my first ride over the Pennines and back. Around 26 miles so not particularly long distance but for someone used to cycling in flat Nottingham, it has absolutely killed me! Unfortunately, I paused Strava halfway through and forgot to restart it but hopefully you can see a rough idea of my route here:

http://goo.gl/MzWie

To cut a long story short, it went terribly. I've decided to ask for help with the following:

1) Long Ascents
Before this ride I was seriously considering swapping the Triple chainring on my 2010 Allez Sport for a compact double. What a mistake that would have been. On the long climbs I'd find myself going down the gears until I finally ended up on the smallest chainring and the granny ring at the back. The problem I had was once I was in it I could never seem to get back out. The gradient would reduce quite a bit at some points but I just didn't feel my legs had it in them to work any harder. The only time I could manage to change gear was once I'd reached the top. Short ascents are not as much as a problem as I like climbing out of the saddle and can generally power up shorter hills in a bigger gear. I can't sustain this effort for any great length of time so I struggle with the longer climbs.

2) Nutrition
I'm in my early twenties so definitely should be reasonably fit but I am a bit on the skinny side and found I had to stop 5-6 times on the route to get my breath back. I must have looked a state as passing cyclists were looking concerned and asked whether I was okay! I had a large pasta supper last night and then cereal with a large glass of water this morning. I then had a couple of cereal bars and a bottle of water for the ride. Yet even after 10 minutes I was huffing and puffing quite a bit and taking lots of water. I ended up having to ration the water for the rest of the ride to stop myself running dry. Should I be needing more than one bottle for a <30 mile ride?

3) Descents
No other words for these other than terrifying. It may be due to my recent accident but I was scared to build up any serious speed around the bends at all. According to a Strava segment I'm 78th out of 81 people on one of the big descents and didn't even break 25mph. I know it's a stupid question but how do I actually use the brakes? Do I keep them lightly pressed all the time or give them a good squeeze every now and again? As I'm quite lightweight I'm always a bit worried about pressing them too hard and locking the wheels. I like to be on the drops during descents as it makes it slightly easier to access the brakes but I am finding them a bit of a stretch. Would changing the bars from the standard Specialized ones help? I've also decided I want to change the Continental Ultra Sport tyres to something with a bit more grip. Any suggestions on that front?

I know there's a lot of questions in there but any feedback would be welcome to help out this struggling cyclist!

Calpol
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Re: First seriously hilly ride - I need help!

Postby Calpol » Sun Mar 03, 2013 14:09 pm

1) YOu only get better at climbing by climbing more. Well done for getting on with some tough stuff. Next time try and do it without stopping. As you get stronger you will spin a higher gear and only go into the Granny for the steep bits.

2) YOu should need any nutrition really for a 25 mile ride. A banana should be fine

3) Descending is all about confidence and you only build this with experience. I say good on you for getting down in one piece. Next time you will be faster

turnerjohn
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Re: First seriously hilly ride - I need help!

Postby turnerjohn » Sun Mar 03, 2013 14:20 pm

as above !
your finding it tough cos your not used to it and hill climbing is the toughest.
try doing some flat out TT efforts when your at home...its keeping the intensity thats key aka mimic long climbs, also try some turbo type sessions to improve your power.
theres no easy way to it...just got to do more. just cos your young doesn't mean you should be good at it tho ....all comes down to training and pushing yourself hard.....it will get easier tho :-)

Vortice
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Re: First seriously hilly ride - I need help!

Postby Vortice » Sun Mar 03, 2013 14:36 pm

The single biggest thing you can do to improve your performance is to do it more. Simple as that.

Bozman
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Re: First seriously hilly ride - I need help!

Postby Bozman » Sun Mar 03, 2013 14:43 pm

Practice makes perfect, don't avoid the hills, find them and use them and apparently they're easier the more weight you lose.
I search for hills, folk tell me about them and sometimes you stumble across them.

Supermurph09
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Re: First seriously hilly ride - I need help!

Postby Supermurph09 » Sun Mar 03, 2013 15:15 pm

If you're looking for hills, pop up the M1, along the A38 to Derbyshire. You'll have lots to practice on! :D

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Mikey41
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Re: First seriously hilly ride - I need help!

Postby Mikey41 » Sun Mar 03, 2013 16:10 pm

First two are already covered, but:

3. When descending, stay off the brakes and keep looking well ahead. If there's a turn coming up and you feel you're going too fast, apply the rear brake so you are feeling it slowing you down, then while keeping that pressure on the rear, apply the front brake harder to drop speed to what you want. Then release both brakes smoothly and turn the corner. Don't drag the brakes all the way.
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robbo8989
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Re: First seriously hilly ride - I need help!

Postby robbo8989 » Sun Mar 03, 2013 18:16 pm

Thanks for the advice so far. Finding hills isn't really a problem where I live (quite the opposite). I'll definitely try the route again too because the scenery is stunning and if I hadn't been in so much pain it would have been a really enjoyable ride. And the reason I asked about nutrition is because I felt the 'tank was empty' for almost the entire ride. I deliberately went out quite slow to try and save energy for the first big climb but the 'empty tank' feeling hit me after 5 minutes and that was it. Maybe it's just a case of eating more before the ride?

Mikey41 wrote:3. When descending, stay off the brakes and keep looking well ahead. If there's a turn coming up and you feel you're going too fast, apply the rear brake so you are feeling it slowing you down, then while keeping that pressure on the rear, apply the front brake harder to drop speed to what you want. Then release both brakes smoothly and turn the corner. Don't drag the brakes all the way.


Perfect, thanks. Pretty much the opposite to what I've been doing!

MattyyP
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Re: First seriously hilly ride - I need help!

Postby MattyyP » Sun Mar 03, 2013 18:37 pm

How long have you been riding?
Specialized Secteur Sport 2011
B'Twin Rockrider 8 XC
B'Twin Rockrider 9.1

robbo8989
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Re: First seriously hilly ride - I need help!

Postby robbo8989 » Sun Mar 03, 2013 19:23 pm

Around two years but not as frequently as recently and mostly in Nottingham.

MattyyP
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Re: First seriously hilly ride - I need help!

Postby MattyyP » Sun Mar 03, 2013 19:26 pm

Perhaps you just need to ride the hills more then... Why not head to the Peak District on the weekend, plenty of hills out there! :) Or park your car at Matlock and ride up and down the Via Gelia a few times, that'll sort your climbing fitness out and your descending confidence! :D
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ALIHISGREAT
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Re: First seriously hilly ride - I need help!

Postby ALIHISGREAT » Sun Mar 03, 2013 20:00 pm

1) You're not fit enough.

2) You're not fit enough.

3) Don't drag the brakes - just relax and go faster. If you need to shave some speed off then squeeze the brakes and release them again.

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smidsy
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Re: First seriously hilly ride - I need help!

Postby smidsy » Mon Mar 04, 2013 11:09 am

Some good lumpy bits around bradgate park off j22/23 near woodhouse eaves/Newton linford area. Would be happy to show you if you get the urge. As I need the practice.
Yellow is the new Black.

robbo8989
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Re: First seriously hilly ride - I need help!

Postby robbo8989 » Mon Mar 04, 2013 12:28 pm

Probably should have made it clearer but I was only a student at Nottingham and so no longer live there. I now live in Huddersfield.

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zx6man
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Re: First seriously hilly ride - I need help!

Postby zx6man » Mon Mar 04, 2013 12:43 pm

was it over marsden or holme moss, lovely routes :-)

always thought my conti ultras were fine grip wise.

ChrisAOnABike
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Re: First seriously hilly ride - I need help!

Postby ChrisAOnABike » Mon Mar 04, 2013 13:00 pm

FWIW, as a complete noob, I change into a low gear to start with, and go up steadily. Then if I find I can change up and still keep a steady pace, all well and good.

Whereas if I change down because I have to, I've already fatigued my legs, so it feels harder.
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BigDaddyG
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Re: First seriously hilly ride - I need help!

Postby BigDaddyG » Mon Mar 04, 2013 13:18 pm

With been a big chap climbing is my nemisis, and while 'get out on your bike and climb some more' advice is good and totally true I will give you my method.

Don't go out at the start to hard
Depending on the length of the hill (and gradient) I like to get out of the saddle thus making me change up a couple of gears to get the power - I do this for a count of 30 on the pedal strokes.
Then I sit down and try and spin in that gear for as long as my leg will allow (as standing 'appears' to work different muscule groups) slowly dropping to the easiest as the leg burns happen. Once at that point you can rinse and repeat or grit your teeth, MTFU and grind your way to the top.
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robbo8989
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Re: First seriously hilly ride - I need help!

Postby robbo8989 » Mon Mar 04, 2013 18:50 pm

zx6man wrote:was it over marsden or holme moss, lovely routes :-)


Yep up over Marsden then down to the Dove Stone reservoir and back up over the Moors to Meltham. Fantastic scenery. I wish I could have appreciated it more! Great to see plenty of encouragement from other cyclists on the route too.

Thanks for all the tips everyone. I'm going to attempt the same route again at the weekend and try and take everything on board. Hopefully I'll see a small improvement.

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Rolf F
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Re: First seriously hilly ride - I need help!

Postby Rolf F » Mon Mar 04, 2013 22:15 pm

robbo8989 wrote:Short ascents are not as much as a problem as I like climbing out of the saddle and can generally power up shorter hills in a bigger gear. I can't sustain this effort for any great length of time so I struggle with the longer climbs.


I don't want to repeat what has already been said but, re the above - don't then! Don't climb out of the saddle on short climbs! It isn't compulsory - stay seated and grind up in a slightly bigger gear than you ideally would like. Training means doing things a way that will make you better - not necessarily doing things the easiest way. I know it's hard when the topgraphy doesn't give what you want (I'd like flat occasionally but it is over an hours ride to anywhere flat from where I live!) but you can make the best of it.
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g00se
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Re: First seriously hilly ride - I need help!

Postby g00se » Tue Mar 05, 2013 01:11 am

I had similar issues with longer climbs (being Norfolk based). Like others have said, climbing more helps but I found adding structure and understanding to the effort involved helped.

This is very simplified - and those that know more about the subject will probably scoff - but finding out about your 'threshold' zone will help. Have a google about power and heart rate zones - stuff in the training forum too. But basically, you should be able to just about hold working at your threshold zone for 30-60 minutes. Under threshold (tempo and endurance zones) it's easy but more importantly, above threshold - when you get into VO2max/anaerobic effort - you'll soon blow up.

http://www.britishcycling.org.uk/insigh ... Monitors-0

What you need to try to do is get to know what it feels like when you're working at threshold - or use something like a heart rate monitor. If you can keep the climb at that zone, you should be OK. Of course, some gradients are going to throw you straight into unsustainable effort for any real distance - but that's something else.

I suspect you hit the hill too hard, went well past threshold and into oxygen debt - started suffering and couldn't get you heart-rate down fast soon enough, despite dropping through the gears.

The other benefit of riding at threshold is that it trains your muscles to increase power at threshold - so you get faster and stronger.


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