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Why Can't I Climb?(10 posts)

Why Can't I Climb?aeon
Jul 11, 2002 10:46 PM
Ok here's the situation

I'm 19, 140 lb and skinny. My ride is an 80's steel frame, good condition, with 7 cogs in the back and some 8sp Chorus Ergopower shifters. Flexy and heavy...

I'm generally fit; I've started strength training, and I mountain bike, and used to run cross country with my school.

I live on some very hilly terrain, so any rides I do out of my door either involve an immediate uphill or an even bigger downhill. Most of it is pretty steep, too. I seem to do alright on the flats, but whenever a hill comes along I often lose all momentum and end up standing in my easiest gear (39X27).

I can't seem to get up these things with any speed of rhythm. Plus, my seated climbing is both shortlived and just plain bad.

Now, I'm looking to find some races soon, and although i know I'd get killed anyway, I'm particularly worried about the uphills. And even more about uphills at the end of a race, because my endurance thus far is not the best.

So can anyone recommend something? I need to eat and drink better, and I'm working on that, but other than getting a new bike (not a chance) I'm stuck for ideas. Anyone?
Simple answerSoultrain
Jul 12, 2002 1:22 AM
Climb lots. Lots standing and lots sitting. It will probably take a while for your climbing to improve but of course it will. Keep on the weights too. uphill Threshold intervals of around 2-5 minutes should be good for building climbing power as well.
Soultrain
Simple answerbear
Jul 12, 2002 2:25 AM
my nephey visited spain last wnter and I was exited when he got me a training book from there. expecting some kind of secret spanish training method only to find only ONE page on climbing!!! do lots and lots of climds and intervals inervals intervals!! oh well
how long have you been cycling?weiwentg
Jul 12, 2002 3:14 AM
I think everyone who's new to cycling will have initial problems climbing. it could also be that your hills are simply too steep to climb with a 39x27. where do you live?
You're used to running...favors standing.Leisure
Jul 12, 2002 3:15 AM
Not just that, but even being a good mountainbiker doesn't necessarily make you a good road climber. This is the first year I would qualify myself as doing any "semi-serious" road riding and I was admittedly expecting my mountainbiking fitness to have helped more. And vice versa, my improvements in road riding hasn't helped my mountain fitness one iota. Not yet, at least. They are different kinds of fitness and it will take time to adapt. That and depending on your style of mountainbiking your pedaling form has to adjust as well. Getting used to pedaling in the drops versus sitting more upright, having to constantly pedal smoothly as opposed to charging through technical sections, etc. Time and training. That's all there is to it.
Spinhusker
Jul 12, 2002 3:25 AM
Get it in the easiest gear, less than you think you need to get to the top, and spin at a high cadence. Make sure that your spinning circles and not just mashing on the down stroke. This might take some practice. If you have an indoor trainer that is the best place to simulate this, especially if you jack up the front end under a pile of books, and do intervals that way. Try 5 intervals at 3 mins. with 30 seconds rest between.

Of course this may not work, but it helped me considerably.
re: Why Can't I Climb?koala
Jul 12, 2002 5:13 AM
I would try sitting in the saddle more as this will help develop rythym. You can still power over the small hills standing but the standing posion will sap energy. I used to race and stood on all the climbs but noticed I wore out at the end of the long ones. Once you get into seated rythym type climbing you can mix it up more and stand part of the time. Nothing beats plain old mileage and climbing those hills over and over, though.
It is all about T.I.T.S.PhatMatt
Jul 12, 2002 5:16 AM
T=time
I=in
T=the
S=saddle

That is what I have been told. And I am a very shitty climber. I have added hill intervals to my routine and am getting to be a better climber. On a recent charity ride I was on I dropped 3 people ina small cannyon that have always dropped me in a heartbeat. Just keep climbing and you will be there soon.
Same problem here.tamjam
Jul 12, 2002 8:59 AM
I have similar problems climbing on the road. I spend about 60% of my time on MTB, split between my singlespeed and my geary, and the other 40% on road. On the MTB, especially my SS, I can climb very well, reeling everyone in that I see ahead of me. But on the road I suck. I simply cannot do any sustained climbing seated, even in my smallest gear 39x24. No cadence, no rhythm, just standing and mashing. I thought my climbing ability on the MTB would help my road biking, but certainly not yet. Very frustrating.

I know this doesn't help you find a solution to your problem, but at least you know you're not alone!
how to climb in the saddle ...Wise
Jul 12, 2002 9:38 AM
first of all you should make sure your seat is at the proper height. If its too low your big muscles will tire out very quickly. If its too high the bike will rock around from side to side and it will be difficult to work into a pace on a climb.

second, when you are climbing seated you need to concentrate. Sit back on the saddle, ride with your hands on top of the bars, and lean over at your waist toward the front of the bike. Use your arms to pull back on the bars as you push the gear around with your legs. Concentrate on the gradient you are climbing and adjust your gear accordingly. On a hill with a grade between 4 and 8% you will probably want to target your seated cadence to around 75 - 100 rpm. Try not to think about the pain and instead concentrate on keeping your cadence up and shifting as appropriate.

It is VERY important to carry your momentum on a climb. When you are dropping a gear on a climb, make sure you accelerate for a couple strokes first because you will lose a moment of inertia while you shift and it can be tough to get it back. All the while, keep pulling on your bars!!

Once you run out of gears or the grade steepens beyond 8% or so, you will need to stand up. When you stand up you will generally want to shift up. Your cadence will be significantly slower out of the saddle no matter what gear you use. You can choose to mash your way up the hill or take a smaller gear and dance on the pedals a little more gently. Get forward on your bike and ride on the hoods. Climbing out of the saddle takes a lot of practice and even more concentration than sitting down. You will probably have to just go out and work on it until you find a form that works for you. In general, I think most people stay too far back when they climb standing.

Hang in there... the more you do it, the easier it will get. If you don't have a bike computer, it would be a great idea to get one that displayed cadence.