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Would this be a good idea?(17 posts)

Would this be a good idea?seth1
May 14, 2001 9:57 AM
Should I force myself to get stronger by switching out my 13-26 for a 12-23 rear cassette? It seems like what ever I do, no matter how hard I train, I cannot climb hills any faster, and I STRUGGLE a lot. I don't have that much more weight to lose (about 160 now could get down to 155 if I starved myself) from my body. But I see all the other people in my group speeding away from me on the climbs. And don't tell me about spinning up hill, that has to be a myth, no one "spins" up a hill.

Next question: can anybody climb like a 5'4", 128lbs Italian racer on epo or does physiology create a glass cieling.

Is it possible to raise lactic threshold or VO2 max (what ever that is)?
re: Would this be a good idea?xxx
May 14, 2001 10:07 AM
Casettes don't get anyone up a hill. Power/weight/O2metabolism/proper bike get you up a hill. Mental tenacity can help as well....If you picked the wrong parents, well folks left me a bit short changed on that front to. Everyone will write in saying 'get a C-40 Colnago' blah, blah, blah. I say 'bullsh*t'. To a degree, it'll help, but the bike is not doing the work, correct? Yes, you most certainly can increase threshold and VO2 max levels (again, the parents help alot in this department).
Thanks for the responseseth1
May 14, 2001 10:14 AM
My thinking behind the cassette change is that I would no longer have that 26 to bail out on and would have to force myself up on the 23 thus getting stronger.
May 14, 2001 10:20 AM
...this is not meant as a bash so don't take it that way. If you have to physically change your cassette to keep yourself from bailing out, then to me it seems like you need to work on the mental aspect/hurdle more than the physical aspect.

Now, that said, I suck at climbing too, and am not trying to offer professional advise, you might be 100% correct. It was just the 1st thing that popped into my head when i read that.

Good Luck whatever route you take.
I should have clarified...seth1
May 14, 2001 10:25 AM
I wasn't going to PHYSICALLY change out my cassette, I was thinking about EMOTIONALLY change out the cassette ; - ) Ha ha ha
Have faith, and you will climb mountains....muncher
May 14, 2001 10:25 AM
Re the spinning - I used to say exactly the same as you, but you really can get to do it. I started by getting (as it happened) a bike with a triple, and using the lower gears to climb in. Just kept at it till I got stronger/fitter, and bit by bit used higher gears till I mainly climb spinning - and it really is as quick/quicker. Not saying that I never get out the saddle - I do - but it is a better way to climb, I feel.

On the basis of that (take it or leave it) I wouldn't change your ratios, I'd just persevere with the training and you'll get to the stage where you can spin up and up.

Just my 0.6 pence worth, or whatever the rate is today....
re: Would this be a good idea?PaulCL
May 14, 2001 11:10 AM
Give it a try! I did. My campy 10sp came with a 13/26. An acquaintance was dumping his 11/23 for a 13/ I grabbed the 11/23 very cheaply. Yes, I have swapped out the 13/26 for the 11/23 for training rides. It will strengthen your climbing ability, or at least feel that way when, if, you go back to the 13/26. I wouldn't have done it if the second cassette wasn't so cheap. Paul
Get Smartergrz mnky
May 14, 2001 11:13 AM
Get the Lactate Pulse Rate Training Guide or whatever it's called. Switching your cogs may help, but may also give you knee problems. Why not just avoid using your low gearing? B/c you're going to use it if it's available. Some of my riding buddies and I go seek out steep nasty hills to climb - 14%, 18%, and 24%. Once you train on stuff this steep everything else looks not as bad. Go seek out organized rides that drag you over tough terrain - wallow in the climb-fest, there's a fine line between the pleasure and the pain.

Really what you need is focused training and one of the ways to get better is to do intervals. They are extremely painful, but the rewards are great - the book will explain how to effectively do it and show actual data. You'll need a heart rate monitor also. You ultimately want to get stronger and working around at levels based on your aerobic threshold is one of, if not the, most effective ways to do it.

Big guys can climb extremely well, but if you have two guys that are both out of shape - one on the heavy side and the other on the light side of optimum the lighter guy will have an easier time.
Try this ...bianchi boy
May 14, 2001 11:21 AM
Once a week, go for a ride where you keep it in the big ring the entire way. That's what I do. I've found that on my regular daily training route, I can average nearly 2 mph faster by going the whole way in the big ring. But I don't like to ride like that all the time, and would be concerned about hurting my knees. So I like the option of having the 25, 26 or 27 in the back in case I ride in the mountains or just don't feel like pushing it.
Yes, yes, and yes ...Humma Hah
May 14, 2001 11:45 AM
As a dedicated singlespeeder I'm a big fan of climbing hills in too high a gear. Initially it is a brutal, even humiliating experience, followed by a lot of muscle soreness. However, muscle growth in response to such torture is prompt and significant. And a lot of roadies learn to stand-climb like I've always done. This is an explosively powerful technique that most folks overdo when they first try it. It takes much practice to learn to reign in the power of out-of-saddle climbing.

I use my speedometer on long hills with a constant grade. I pick a speed I believe I can maintain and keep watching the speedo to hold it constant. Otherwise I will often tend to pick up speed to a pace I can't maintain, and go so anaerobic I need to stop. It takes a lot of experience to learn where your AT is. (One thing about climbing singlespeed or over-geared: with no low "escape gears", you will find yourself climbing right at AT, as fast as possible without getting out of breath and exhausted, because anything else drops you to an even more unpleasant low cadence.)

Frequent long climbs at your anaerobic threshold (which you learn to identify by the dramatic change in breathing and onset of muscle burn) will move that threshold up to a higher heart rate.

VO2 max doesn't seem to be much affected by these "AT intervals". To improve VO2 max you must push to about 95% of your max heart rate. This is both a highly unpleasant experience, and can be dangerous if you have not had your heart checked out by a physician, preferably a cardiologist. These intervals are a draining experience -- schedule them carefully -- but they do not have to be done very often and I've found them to be stunningly effective.
Keep your 26 until you can spin up your usual climbs.Jimbob
May 14, 2001 12:11 PM
Spinning is more efficient than slowly grinding at 40 rpms. Youll go faster wtih the 26 if you can barely turn a 23. Sounds like you are just lacking strength. Once a week push some hard gears seated up hill.

Focus on recovery. Hydrate, rest, replenish, etc. The faster you recover, the faster you improve everything like strength, Vo2 max, anaerobic threshold, etc.
Cheaper solutionLC
May 14, 2001 12:24 PM
Just adjust your rear derailleur so you can't get into the largest gear. Turn the "L" screw clockwise.

If you can live without the gear for a while, then you can get a different cassette.
What kind of climbs?.......TIC
May 14, 2001 2:03 PM
Are you talking about short, steep climbs, or climbs of a mile or more? Regardless, if your goal is to go faster, you have two choices. 1. Spin faster in your usual gear. 2. Use a bigger gear and spin the same speed.

I had never climbed really big (greater than 2 miles) until I went to Italy. I had a "coach" there that rode in a big gear, always stood for long stretches, and was very deliberate with his motion (loose hands on the hoods, gently rocking the bike, big gear). He used this on all hills, one kilometer or 20!! I started emulating this, and now I climb MUCH better.

I came home and couldn't believe the difference it made on the same climbs I was used to. I'm a firm believer in bigger gears and have taught that successfully to several of my riding friends. BTW, no knee problems yet from anyone involved.

But... here's what I did and in a couple of months...Groucho Marx
May 14, 2001 3:00 PM
I agree that spinnig is important. But if you want results, always push as big a gear as fast as you can that will allow you to just barely make it up the hill by the end. You need to be able to do both always at the same time. You won't make any gains if you do only one or the other. Spinning really fast on a light gear won't do much except keep you fresh, which is okay in a race where that's the name of the game, but for training, you want to 'spin' in a big gear. Also, when training, try and pick something where you don't have to stand. Like 6-8%. Standing is okay once you are in a race, and once you have the power and stamina, but results are much better when you stay seated in training. So 6-8% grad. You can do the hill a couple of times with a certain time for recovery that you decrease as you get better.

It is important if you grind big gears to keep your cadence up, or believe it or not, you will get tired faster, with less results. Do this on a climb with an ideal length of 1-2km. I would get rid of the 26 eventually. You don't need it unless you really want to do something really long and steep. If you get rid of it, you won't have the temptation to out.If you can't last the hill, don't find a shorter climb, find one thats less steep. Try to keep it at least 1 km or longer. Stay seated with your hands across the bars, stay upright, with your back relatively straight. (not in drops or hoods).

So, do a longer hill, about 1km, and spin the big gear faster, and pace yourself so that you are still spinning by the time you get to the top, but are absolutely dead. Then recover, and do it again. This will hurt if you do it enough, but man, do you get results. Stay seated, and upright, hands on the bar in a big gear(you know what I mean, not on the hoods or the drops).

Benifits: Your heart rate hits the roof. By spinning, you're still keeping good form. By using a big gear, your legs will become much stronger (not after the climb though :). By spinning a big gear I mean as big a gear as you can while still spinning. Easier on the back for when your training (hands on the bar, upright).

Important: If you do any serious intervals, and heavy intensity stuff like that, make sure you strech nicely before you do. Don't over stretch, just be nice and thorough. And do at least 15-30mins of riding before you do the heavy intervals. Make sure you have enough sugar in your blood, or all these interval stuff is useless. If any one component of these interval things is not being done, it will not work as well.

Spin the big gear. (Important to have a smooth pedal stroke, but I find that when I try to spin a big gear fast, a smooth pedal stroke happens naturally, but just the same, concentrate on keeping it smooth, with as little upper body motion as you can).
Stay upright with your back straight (this really helps your breathing and your pedal stroke!).
Stay seated.
1km or not too much longer hill.
Not too steep: 6-8%. If you find it too hard, find hill thats just as long, but less steep. The important thing is to push the big gears fast. I find that pushing the small gears fast but on a steep hill is not as an efficient training mechanism because your body positioning on the steep hills forces you to lean forward, and hence impare your breathing.)
make sure its not blood sugar level keeping you back.

Disclaimer:) This worked really well for ME. I did this on the trainier, and on a local hill since january, and after not even being able to keep with the local guys on the flats at the end of last season, I am now smoking them. But then again, I am myself, and noone else, and people respond to different training differently.

Question: Do any of you experienced riders have anything to say about the stuff I just said? I am not that experienced, and I think I hit on something that works for me by luck. Am I doing anything wrong?
Ever checked KOP?dave
May 14, 2001 3:21 PM
A change in your knee-over-pedal position may help your seated climbing. I've always placed my knee at least 1/4" or more behind the pedal spindle. Experiment to see if it helps.

If you're lagging on short hills where most riders are standing, it may be weight related. I'm 5'-7" and weigh in at 132-138. I usually leave everyone behind on the hills, if I chose.

On long hills, try alternating standing and sitting to break up the monotony, and use different muscles.
one techniquefuzzybunnies
May 14, 2001 9:11 PM
Something I found that works is to start off every hill with a sprint, shifting one gear easier when your cadence slows, if the climb continues and you're cadence starts to drop off again, go 1 gear easier and sit and spin, drop another gear when you're cadence starts to drop. If your cadence drops again go one gear harder and again going into a standing climb. Continue to follow the above method until you reach the top. Doing so has improved both my sprinting ability and my climbing ability. Used to get dropped by every one on the climbs and can even hang with the cat 3 riders longer than I used to on the local hills(they can still drop me anytime they try to though) TTFN
Maybe, but...mr_spin
May 15, 2001 9:48 AM
The question is, are you climbing in your 26? I don't know off-hand what the spacing is for a 13-26, but I assume there is a 23 or 24. Avoid using the 26 for a few weeks to see what stepping up to a 23 will feel like. I used to run 12-27, but this year, I realized that I wasn't using the 27 at all, even on the steepest climbs. So I switched it to a 12-25, which is much better, even though I'm not using the 25 either! I don't race, so keeping the 25 as a bailout is nice.

By changing the cassette, you will at least force yourself to work harder and build up strength and power. Over time, you will climb easier, but you still may never catch your buddies on the way up. Oh well. Maybe you can get a buffer by beating them to the base of the mountain. Maybe you can catch up with fearless descending.

By the way, don't make any drastic gearing changes until you have some decent base mileage in. Otherwise, you'll probably have some knee trouble.