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Hills(9 posts)

May 31, 2002 7:03 AM
What is the best way to train for hills. I always wonder if I should do this seated or standing. When I am trying to ride fast, standing is necessary. Should I try to tailor this to a certain cadence? Is it better to work the hill staying at a faster cadence with somewhat reduced speed or a higher gear and a somewhat slower cadence. The problem is Im always trying to be fast and I need to stand when others I ride with are going just as fast and can stay seated. Does it matter? Dave
re: HillsMcAndrus
May 31, 2002 7:20 AM
If I understand this correctly, you're trying to stay with a group that are stronger climbers than you and the question is, which techniques work better? Speaking as someone who's frequently trying to stay with stronger climbers, I'll render an opinion or two.

Seated climbing is more efficient (less total energy) that standing climbing. Faster cadences are more efficient (less glycogen consumption) than slower cadences.

That said, most likely your prime goal is to stay with the group. If you have to stand, then stand. Standing climbing is less efficient but also generates more power. Or put to put it another way, you may spend more power standing on a climb to stay with the group but you'll use even more energy if you're off the back trying to catch up.

As to cadence, a climbing cadence will be lower than a flats cadence. I ride 95-105 on the flats and 75-90 on hills. While a faster cadence is usually better, you're correct that sometimes you need the lower cadence to generate the power you need to stay with the group.

When to stand and when to climb - when to spin and when to grind are very subjective things and you're probably going to get different opinions than mine. I know excellent climbers who stand for half-mile stretches and excellent climbers who always stay in the saddle.

I'd say experience is the best teacher.
re: Hillsmr_spin
May 31, 2002 7:37 AM
Whatever gets you up the hill is what you should do. Sit, stand, whatever. The penalty for your efforts may be that you crack later in the ride.

What you should be concentrating on, especially for long climbs, is creating a rhythm. Try to keep your effort level relatively constant, regardless of the gradient. Your speed will vary as the gradient changes, but you will not be completely burned at the top. When the gradient goes upward for a short stretch, stand up for more power so you can keep your momentum. Never let your forward momentum drop if you can help it. Finally, on any climb, you should stand up periodically to work different muscles and allow others to rest. Plus, it helps to stretch out your legs and your butt.

One more thing. Look at the current leader in the Giro, Savoldelli. He is probably a second-tier climber, but is also perhaps the greatest descender of this era. All he has to do is stay close to the leaders, because he knows he can catch them over the top. It's not always the fastest uphill that wins the race. Instead of trying to stay with your friends, maintain your own rhythm that keeps them in sight. Then catch them or smoke them on the descent. Even an average descender should be able to catch up if not too far behind.
To be a better climber, climb better hills.MB1
May 31, 2002 7:37 AM
When you are in a group ride don't think, just ride. Do everything you can do to hang on to the top of the hill. If you are about to fall off near the top-sprint and see it you can make it to the top. Over time you will get better but the real key is your training.

Find the hardest hills around and ride them solo. Do repeats on those hills and try different things during your training to see what works best for you. On long climbs you should both stand and sit to use different muscles.

Practice, practice, practice.
How I became a bad (instead of TERRIBLE) climber.retro
May 31, 2002 8:04 AM
I still climb like a bowling ball, but last year I got tired of being the guy everybody waits for at the top ("OK, there he is--let's go!") and really worked on climbing. I lost some weight (a big help) and just CLIMBED. If I had a choice of going around or over, I started going over--really low gears at first, then higher as the summer went on. I never passed up a hill.
In a couple of months I was riding a whole chainring (not just a cog, but middle ring instead of granny) higher than in May, and feeling a lot better when I got to the top. I'm still toward the back of the pack, but I'm not last.
As for standing vs. sitting, I've read a couple of studies that show you use less energy sitting, and I usually climb that way. For the first time in years, though, I'm in good enough shape to stand briefly to pop over a rise or whatever.
Second that.look271
May 31, 2002 2:51 PM
I used to hate hills. Avoided them at all cost. Then I moved. I couldn't avoid them.I really like climbing now. While I'm not the 1st to the top (depending on who I ride with), I'm not last, either. Hill repeats worked great for me. I'll sit most of the time and stand on the really steep stuff or if I want to pick up the pace a bit.
best way to train for hillsColnagoFE
May 31, 2002 9:38 AM
make sure you have the gearing appropriate for conditions and your fitness and then just ride 'em...Combination of sitting and standing works best for me.
practice, technique and a certain bloodymindednesslonefrontranger
May 31, 2002 9:40 AM
I am not a climber but I have learned how to climb. Persistence and pigheadedness are key. If you really hate to climb, look at it this way: the better you are at climbing, the sooner you can get the &*%$# things over with. I think the main issue is that most riders, up to and including mid-level amateur racers, lack considerable technique when climbing, and it really does have a LOT to do with technique. This means lots and lots of practice to figure out what specifically works for you.

The first thing I did was practice, meaning I went climbing no matter how much I hated it. Wednesday nights are my "hill-repeat" interval nights, and my current route is a booger: 2 mile climb, the first mile averages 5%, the second mile averages 11% with a couple of wicked steeps. I do this 3-5 times depending on how I feel and where I'm at in my training. The goal is not to "climb till I puke", the goal is to train my LT higher by purposely climbing at LT *without* blowing up. After six or eight weeks of this nonsense, I'm now climbing 2 cogs higher at the same perceived effort.

The second thing I did was to learn how to climb technically well, and that took time. This meant learning how to both sit and stand for extended periods, and how to utilize different muscle groups doing so. I often will climb seated for a few minutes, then shift forward on the saddle to engage more hamstring/less quad, etc... After over a year of practice, I have learned how to climb for as much as 3 to 5 MINUTES out of the saddle without significantly raising my heartrate.

Standing climbing: Man was this hard to learn. I was the type who could not climb out of the saddle for more than ten seconds without blowing up like a grenade. The first thing I had to learn was balance standing, so that I wasn't fighting the bike and my own (considerable) weight every pedalstroke. This took me weeks of climbing gentle grades in moderately large gears to figure out, and you just have to practice to be able to do it well.

The transition from seated to standing *must* be powerful, and this is the single biggest error I see people make. If you "flop" weakly out of the saddle and throw your bike back, you are not only dangerous to those on your wheel, you also lose several MPH of momentum, which is a killer on steeps. Instead, shift to one gear harder to provide a "platform" to pedal on, then try to "suck" the bike forward underneath you using a smooth, consistent power stroke. This "launching stroke" is hard to describe, but when you do it right, the power differential is amazing. Climb just once out of the saddle on a fixed-gear bike and you'll learn a proper launch stroke immediately, because a fixie won't let you make mistakes. Watch Tour or Giro footage of the pros for visual cues. Once you're out of the saddle, a common mistake is to get your shoulders way out ahead of the bike and "drag" it along behind you, while you ineffectually "peck" at the pedals with straight, stiff legs. Instead, keep your weight centered over the bottom bracket with a good bend in the knee, really engaging the calves and hamstrings full circle, while you hover over the saddle with the nose gently brushing your thighs. This requires good ab, lat and core strength, as well as the balance and skill to gently rock the bike back & forth as you use fluid round pedal strokes, pulling laterally with the arms (triceps) against each stroke. When I really started learning how to standing climb, I discovered I needed to use a much higher standing cadence than I'd originally thought, and the higher the cadence, the more your balance and form become crucial. Cheers - LFR
re: Hillsbikedoc
May 31, 2002 2:20 PM
thank you for the input.