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anecdotal acount re: climbing and gears(5 posts)

anecdotal acount re: climbing and gearsDougSloan
Aug 19, 2002 1:43 PM
A week ago Sunday my race team held an uphill timetrial of 6.5 miles and 2,500 feet climbing. While my personal best on this hill was around 45 minutes last year, this time it took me an agonizing 57 minutes.

I used my Bianchi EV2 with a Record 53/39 double and 12-25 in the rear (low of 41 gear inches). Because sections of the hill exceed 15%, and I'm in very poor condition these days, I was standing frequently and mashing at very low rpms, struggling to get up the steep parts. Of course, that then wastes the legs for the less steep parts.

This Sunday I rode up the same hill, but this time alone and on the way to another 40 miles of climbing. I used my Colnago, but with a 53/42/30 triple and 11-23 in the rear (34 gear inches). This setup was significantly heavier, too, with aero bars and laden with 2 full 32 ounce bottles, plus spares and supplies for the longer ride. Plus, the week before the time trial I was fairly rested; last week for a hard one, with several team rides and interval sessions. I started this Sunday thinking my legs were too week to even complete the ride.

Guess what? With the lower gearing, I was a full minute faster on the heavier bike, plus my average heartrate was 10 beats per minute lower, well below threshold. I felt much fresher at the top, whereas the week before I was entirely wasted at the top. My respiration rate was fairly high, and it took more focus to maintain effort, as it's easy to trail off in easy gears. But, no doubt it was signifcantly faster and easier with the lower gearing. FWIW.

What gearing & which bike during your personal best record? -nmTig
Aug 19, 2002 1:53 PM
Aug 19, 2002 2:24 PM
It's been a while, but probably the Colnago with a 12-29 (modifed 13-29) (36 gear inches). I was riding much faster then, too.

re: standing vs sitting?cyclopathic
Aug 19, 2002 3:26 PM
you end up standing much more with high gear and it is generally less efficient. This is alone enough to explain higher HR and respiration rate, esp if it were hot.

I'd bet you haven't had fans spraying you from water bottles, so count overheating too (or maybe you just froze to death? hmm)
Steady EffortLeGrimper
Aug 19, 2002 6:10 PM
Hi Doug.

Interesting report you’ve posted here on your experiences in your uphill TT.

I keep a log of the local hill here that I climb regularly and it makes for some interesting reading. I also have regular physiological testing or my LT, max power etc. These all tie in with what you have said and the gear you can push up hill.

To climb or TT with the maximum efficiency that you have available you have to dose your effort100%. My fastest times have come when I have managed to sit for most of the climb on a single heart beat or within a very narrow range, say 5 beats, changing cadence and position to achieve that. Like this the effort is steady. The only trick is determining the HR that best meets this equilibrium for the duration. Lots of trial and error here.

The power to weight ratio of the bike and you will also effect the final time but not as much as a see-sawing heart rate and power output. Even if the average HR for the double and triple matched at the end of the effort the most even HR would be the fastest and if you are mashing then you know you are dropping time.

But as you have found being able to keep a constant effort going depends a lot on being able to tick over a gear at a steady rate. The 39x25 probably sent you way over threshold for the 15% sections and then you have to slow up to recover. At this point wattage significantly falls and you drop time. A lower gear allows you to maintain a more steady output. A triple, double, whatever is only the means of delivering your effort and these have to match up with your optimum sustainable power.

What do you think Armstrong is concentrating on so intensely on when he is climbing?