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hill climbing cadence?(24 posts)

hill climbing cadence?jfd141
Jun 30, 2002 8:44 AM
I just bought my first road bike a few days ago and have been riding like a mad man. My question is what do you guys think the proper cadence for hill climbing should be? I feel like i should be spinning faster (I tend to keep it in a large gear and crank hard and slow). I've expiremented shifting down, but it seems I always lose substantial speed. Is there a scientifically proven 'most effecient cadence'?
whatever gets you over the top!(nm)merckx56
Jun 30, 2002 8:54 AM
knee position...C-40
Jun 30, 2002 9:47 AM
What is even more important is the relationship of the knee to the pedal spindle, commonly referred to as knee-over- pedal or KOP. With the bike on a level surface and the crank horizontal, a plumb bob hung from the boney protuberance below the kneecap should be in line with the pedal spindle, as a starting point. Moving the saddle back will improve torque for climbing, which is commonly done at slightly lower cadences than riding on the flats. I've never been successfull with the knee positioned directly over the pedal spindle. I get too little torque and too much cadence. I prefer the knee 1-2cm behind the pedal spindle.

Skilled riders try to maintain a 90-100rpm cadence on the flats and maybe 10 rpm less when climbing. Real slow cadence and high torque won't cut it except for very short climbs.
knee position...KOPS myth explainedBryanJL
Jul 1, 2002 8:05 AM
Here's more information on the KOPS situation, which may actually help explain why it hasn't been as effective for you.....

http://www.sheldonbrown.com/kops.html

Bryan
Power vs Strengthjose_Tex_mex
Jun 30, 2002 10:48 AM
I see pedalling as being two separate camps - those who can do a lot of work per unit time (powerful) and those with the big quads who prefer to push hard but not as often.

Guys like Jan Ulrich have big quads and tend to push harder per stroke than others yet don't turn the cranks over as often. Guys like Lance like to turn the cranks over moreso but put less force per stroke into it.

Thus, if you are big and strong you may be able to use the "m" part of F=ma and brute strength your way to the top in which case your cadence would probably be less than 90rpm, I would say more in the 60rpm - 80 rpm. If you tend to use the "a" part of F=ma you will spin more and get your cadence anywhere from 90rpm - 110rpm or maybe 120rpm.

I like to keep my cadence between 90 and 100 going uphill.

As for scientific proof, there's no equation that fits us all. Efficiency will be based upon your personal specifics and experience. Get out there and see what you can do. Don't bonk on the hill and soon enough you will see what camp you're in.
use every tool in your bagDougSloan
Jun 30, 2002 10:55 AM
Different cadences, standing and sitting, forward and aft on the saddle, all use different muscles and various amounts of energy and oxygen. For long hills, I tend to use them all, varying them while I go. Some muscles get tired, I'll shift and use some others. I don't think there is one "ideal" cadence or position for anyone, much less everyone.

That said, I'd estimate that predominately I'll sit fairly mid saddle, hand on hoods, and pedal around 90 rpms for a long hill. Short hills I'm mostly out of the saddle.

I used to tire very quickly out of the saddle. I worked on this a great deal, to the point of climbing for 45 minutes never sitting, forgetting about speed. This helped to develop the standing position muscles tremendously, and allows standing pretty much whenever I want, now. It's no cure all, by any means, but it simply allows use of different muscles for a while.

Doug
Question for Doug Sloan....esbike
Jun 30, 2002 8:43 PM
Doug,

Do you think there is any rationale to spinning with high cadence vs. grinding at low cadence depending on the predominant type of muscle fiber you may have? I think I'm more of a fast twitch guy with below average aerobic capacity. If I spin too much on hills, I feel like I get too winded and have to slow down. If I push a bigger gear, I go as fast or faster and it doesn't stress my aerobics as much. Is this all in my head or is there anything to back that thinking up?
nopeDougSloan
Jul 1, 2002 5:26 AM
I haven't read anything that associates spinning up hills with muscle fiber makeup. I think it has much more to do with aerobic capacity, and a desire to save your legs for another day or part of the course.

I'd bet good money that Marty Nothstein mashes up hills.

Doug
use every tool in your bagmtnpat
Jul 1, 2002 7:56 AM
What kind of cadence are you turning when standing for 45 minutes straight? Just wondering how much work I need to do perfecting a "standing spin"?
variesDougSloan
Jul 1, 2002 8:08 AM
anywhere from 50-90, I'd say. I'm moving all around, too. Sometimes more forward, sometimes rearward; sometimes sort of stiff legged, sometimes crouching and lots of leg movement.

This is not exactly efficient. It's training.

Doug
another questionmtnpat
Jul 1, 2002 8:40 AM
So would you say you are a spinner or a masher while standing? If you know what I mean.

I would think that might vary too based on position.
another questionDougSloan
Jul 1, 2002 9:52 AM
I'd say that almost all out of the saddle riding is mashing, compared to sitting. I see the spinning/mashing distinction more of a pedal pressure issue than cadence. In other words, if are noodling at 60 rpms, you are spinning. Almost all out of the saddle riding requires more pedal pressure.

Not sure it really matters, though, what we call these things. My point was not so much to label things, but to make the point that doing a variety of things works best over all.

Doug
standing and spinningNiwot
Jul 1, 2002 11:02 AM
I agree that we are generally using more force on the pedals when standing. But you can certainly "spin" when you're standing, in the sense of riding at a faster cadence in a smaller gear, versus "mashing" a bigger gear at a slower cadence.
knee position...C-40
Jun 30, 2002 11:45 AM
What is even more important is the relationship of the knee to the pedal spindle, commonly referred to as knee-over- pedal or KOP. With the bike on a level surface and the crank horizontal, a plumb bob hung from the boney protuberance below the kneecap should be in line with the pedal spindle, as a starting point. Moving the saddle back will improve torque for climbing, which is commonly done at slightly lower cadences than riding on the flats. I've never been successfull with the knee positioned directly over the pedal spindle. I get too little torque and too much cadence. I prefer the knee 1-2cm behind the pedal spindle.

Skilled riders try to maintain a 90-100rpm cadence on the flats and maybe 10 rpm less when climbing. Real slow cadence and high torque won't cut it except for very short climbs.
higher cadence take practice!TomS
Jun 30, 2002 12:39 PM
I started practicing climbing with a higher cadence and lower gears late last summer, and it really didn't "take" until just recently. You really have to work at getting your pedal stroke smoother, and also, at least for me, it would tire my legs out to move them so fast!

But once I got the hang of it, it's a lot easier. For example this morning, I felt like I just zoomed up a long (~5 mile) climb with almost zero effort, where I used to push really hard and end up needing to stop before the top because I'd just run out of gas.

It is good to mix it up though, standing and pushing harder will stretch your legs, and can be a good way to get up some short really steep sections in the middle of a long climb.
It also takes a lot smaller gears!ColnagoFE
Jul 1, 2002 7:54 AM
I mean with a 39x25 I am gonna have to mash once in a while when a hill gets much over 12-13% grade. No way can I maintain 90RPM in that kind of gear. I'd be lucky to stay much above 50. If I had Lance's legs maybe...but I just don't have the strength to spin my bulk up steeper hills given my current gearing. My theory is you get up the hill using whatever gears you have. If you have something lower you will find a way to use it. If not you'll still find a way to get to the top. you'll just have to be out of the saddle more.
Thank you!! I've been waiting for someone to say it...dsc
Jul 1, 2002 11:45 AM
I don't know what kind of terrain some of you guys ride on, but on what I consider a "hill" around here (between, say 7-10% grade) no WAY am I sitting and spinning @ 90RPM, not even close, even in my "whimpy" 39x27 gear. I'm either standing or mashing at that point.

For everyone claiming 90RPM on extended climbs, I'd love to hear what gear combos on what road grades (real, not exaggerated :-)) you're using.

-Debi
re: hill climbing cadence?Schmitt
Jun 30, 2002 1:22 PM
Depends on whether you are riding Campy or Shimano.
LOL - nmMcAndrus
Jul 1, 2002 3:58 AM
depends on the hill and how i'm feeingColnagoFE
Jul 1, 2002 7:50 AM
I mean if I had a 10 mile 6% climb on mile 10 of a century I'd probably drop into a low gear and spin it out to save my legs. If I'm out for a 2 hour or so ride over steeper and shorter hills (or racing) I might use a bigger gear out of the saddle and mash to the top.
My best climbs have been around 30 rpm ...Humma Hah
Jul 1, 2002 10:04 AM
... since I ride singlespeed, I've got no choice but to slog down to low RPM when doing any serious climb. I've found that slogging that slow is greuling work, so I naturally try to minimize the torture by climbing as fast as possible, right at my AT.

Put me on a geared bike and I'll drop the gearing, spin easier, and climb at a more comfortable pace. Consequently, I NEVER do my best work on a geared bike. Which is why I adore singlespeed so much.
gear inches?DougSloan
Jul 1, 2002 10:06 AM
What gear inches does your bike have?

I'll never figure out how you got up that wall around 80 miles at Solvang. I had a hard time on my 20 speed.

Doug
single fixed gear easier on standing climbsishmael
Jul 1, 2002 11:23 AM
I think the fixed gear pulls through the dead spaces at 12 and 6. In the worst cases (when exhausted) I sometimes disconnect mommentum from the rear wheel in fits and starts at the bottom of pedal strokes.
Don't forget hand positioning.SpinN
Jul 1, 2002 12:01 PM
When you are climbing and expecting to spin you will want to keep your body breathing properly (from the diaphragm) and efficiently.
You will want to climb with a straight back (both in and out of the saddle). In doing so you will keep you lungs nice and open. If, for example you hunch over it becomes harded to breathe.
When you are in the saddle, keep your hands on the top most part of the handlebars (where the computer goes).
This will help you breathe which is one of the most important aspects of climbing.