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? about climbing(18 posts)

? about climbingThe Human G-Nome
Sep 22, 2002 8:22 PM
i've noticed recently that a lot of riders will come out of the saddle on climbs and lose a considerable amount of momentum and speed. sure enough, as soon as they sit back down, they're back at their normal (if not blistering) pace. my question is just one of reason. is it simply too much fatigue in certain muscles that makes them adjust to a different position despite the loss of speed? often you'll see riders up and down and back up again seemingly every other push of the pedal. for me, i'm only out of the saddle if either the grade is too dramatic or i'm really trying to sprint up a certain stretch and give it everything i have. if it's just a rolling hill, then of course it makes sense to stay out but for an extended climb i'm wondering if some people aren't just better off gutting it out and sitting down. insight, observations?
re: ? about climbingBreakfast
Sep 22, 2002 10:05 PM
I've noticed that too, but not for long as I soon pass this type of rider occasionally and forget all about them losing speed.

But, to consider your questions, you are right that it has to do, in a lot of cases, with fatigue. Coming out of the saddle and not increasing either speed or cadence is not productive. Certainly, it will mean that you give certain muscles a rest but at the same time it could be compared to making a pull at the front of a paceline in that it is an effort above and beyond the seated climbing position. Often it's a sign of a weakening rider who stands with out making an attack.
re: ? about climbingSpunout
Sep 23, 2002 3:45 AM
I climb in the saddle, because if I stand, in about a minute I feel like exploding from all the lactic.

That said, I got smoked on the climbs yesterday by a guy who climbed everything out of the saddle, with a cadence of about 60. I spin 90 sitting down and he just left me there. Now, I'm not a strong climber but my observations tell me that it is very individual. If it works, do it.
Back painfiltersweep
Sep 23, 2002 6:42 AM
I accidentally discovered that the root of my back pain was climbing while seated... I started standing and I have absolutely NO pain. I am somewhat convinced that I am slower while standing, and comparing myself to other riders, I seemed to be faster in a group while seated, but there really isn't much point to enduring extended pain following the climb.

I think one of the issues is that cadence generally drops significantly while standing- most folks tend to shift down if they spin through a hill, while folks that stand often even upshift... no wonder people complain of lactic build-up.
Back painGeardaddy
Sep 23, 2002 8:30 AM
Yes, staying seated and cranking hard at a lower cadence will put a strain on your lower back. Any mountain biker can tell you all about that, as there is often no choice but to stay seated on the steeper climbs because of the need to keep weight distributed further back to keep traction.

Note that getting out of the saddle can be just as big a strain on your back or even more given your technique. You want to move your butt forward more and straighten your back out for better technique. Try to avoid "hunching" over the bars, i.e. not standing up straighter (ala Santiago Botero or Oscar Sevilla), as that will really stress out your back big time.

Probably the most memorable example of great climbing technique was Marco Pantani in the TDF that he won. I seem to remember a stage in the Pyrenees where we attacked the final climb, alternating sitting and standing, where each time he stood up he accelerated and just shredded the field. His rhythm was beautiful and he made it look so easy. What stage was that?
re: ? about climbingtmotz
Sep 23, 2002 4:24 AM
When you go to stand shift to a harder gear selection so you don't lose speed.I read that somewhere.
you have to upshiftlaffeaux
Sep 23, 2002 10:16 AM
Before I stand, I shift into a gear that's two cogs smaller in the back, and when I sit down, I immediately shift into an easier gear by two cogs. There's no way that I can spin as high a cadence while standing, but I do have more power.

I alternate while climbing, mostly to move around a bit and get comfortable. Even though I'm in a higher gear while standing, my speed actually drops by a little complared to sitting due to the reduced cadence.
Riders who stand and are slower than seated given aFez
Sep 23, 2002 4:58 AM
uniform climb are probably fatiguing or cannnot stay seated for whatever reason. The constant switching is probably the sign that their muscles can't take much of either.

Keep in mind there are all different levels of intensity when standing. Just like seated, when standing, there are varying cadences and gear selections. Not all stands are done at maximum power. Sometimes, you do whatever feels best at the particular time. The key is getting up the hill and still staying fresh for the remainder of the ride.
Riders who stand and are slower than seated given aGEORGIADOG
Sep 23, 2002 1:40 PM
I guess Lance isn't a good climber, because he is always out of the saddle!!!
Riders who stand and are slower than seated given aFez
Sep 23, 2002 4:35 PM

My point was that if a rider was getting out of the saddle and actually going slower than when he was seated, something is probably wrong.
Things to consider...biknben
Sep 23, 2002 5:11 AM
I regularly stand while climbing. I mix it in for variation. I stand to get over steeper humps and then sit back down as the grade lessons. I also stand to avoid having to shift. If my cadence is getting a little low I'll stand and speed up a little. Then sit back down into a more comfortable cadence. I find standing for a short while is less disruptive than shifting.

Shifting may be to blame for their lose of momentum. I will soft pedal for a stroke or two while shifting on a climb. If you combine that with getting out of the saddle there may be a noticeable decrease in speed.

I don't understand why your friend would be accelerating after sitting back down. sounds like he is overexerting himself and could improve his climbing technique.
standing vs. sittingenclavecat
Sep 23, 2002 6:25 AM
One of the best things I learned for spinning classes last winter was how to control myself while standing. It seems that most people lose focus of their rythm, breathing, and intensity when they stand. I can go from sitting to standing w/o changing my heart rate. I usually do this to strethc out a little, get rid of some lingering numbness in the toes, get over a short steep section in the middle of the climb, or put in an effort to drop someone. With practice you can learn to climb standing for long periods of time with out blowing up. I realize that sitting is more efficent and I spend about 90% of my time climbing in the saddle but work on it and see what a difference it can make.
Its a style thingcyclequip
Sep 23, 2002 6:30 AM
Some climbers are more comfortable out of the saddle (en danseuse) - depends on the rider. Typically for the same speed, standing on a given climb:
results in a 5-8 beats increase in HR; uses different muscles so can be used to counter fatigue in seated-climbing muscles; produces more power so can be used to counter steep grades; should be done in a higher gear than seated climbing; should form part of all riders' arsenal, but like riding the drops, requires practice and application.
Agree w/ most, except...Fez
Sep 23, 2002 6:47 AM
"Typically for the same speed, standing on a given climb:
results in a 5-8 beats increase in HR"

Usually the very act of getting out of the saddle results in a different speed, so it is impossible to say a 5-8 beat increase in HR results for the same speed. The speed changes as a result of standing, the new gear selection (if applicable), cadence, and the power you put to the pedals.

Is standing less efficient? Maybe, but sometimes you need to do what it takes to get over the hill and keep the legs fresh.
Agree, but...funknuggets
Sep 23, 2002 11:00 AM
The increase in HR would likely be relative to the rider, but an entirely expected result of the standing position. For some, a 5-8 increase would be better than the 10-30 they are probably seeing. Remember, standing up is a far less efficient position, both from an aerodynamic position and a physical effort. When climbing, more stress is placed upon the arms, shoulders and chest, especially if you see dramatic bike sway from stroke to stroke. The standing position enables the rider to utilize gravity as a part of his/her downstroke, but the body requirement on the glute, ham, and femoral head of the quadriceps is higher than when seated. Because of this, heartrate will almost always increase, and thus you see the propensity of people to go "lactic".

In addition, the strongest climbers will typically maintain a higher cadence. They remain seated until their cadence drops due to slower speed, then stand to get above or at their desired level.... or just to keep up with the other guys... or, in LA's example... to drop them.

I do think that there are dramatic differences in rider style and technique. To automatically assume that if a rider gets up and sits repeatedly because he is likely poorly conditioned or wearing out is a bad. Just look at LA's climbing technique in comparison to Ullrich's in the 2001TdF. Night and day, and they both had dropped the peleton, so despite vastly different styles... they both climbed well... one stood and sat repeatedly at a higher cadence, while the other sat and grinded.

So... what is my point... a good question... make no assumptions as to a rider's condition based upon whether they sit or stand...a higher HR when standing while climbing is practically unavoidable... and riders climbing styles vary dramatically.

There is no "right" way to climb. If you want to do it wrong, however, climb like me, I climb like a stone.
Agree, but...The Human G-Nome
Sep 23, 2002 2:54 PM
"So... what is my point... a good question... make no assumptions as to a rider's condition based upon whether they sit or stand...a higher HR when standing while climbing is practically unavoidable... and riders climbing styles vary dramatically. "

to clarify, there is no right or wrong, however, if you are dropping speed by standing up and at the same time exerting more energy, i would hasten to guess that you might not be peddaling to the best of your abilities.
technique is everythingmr_spin
Sep 23, 2002 6:40 AM
If riders are losing considerable momentum and speed when they stand, they aren't doing it right. There's no reason why they should. There are techniques to climbing well and one of them is how to avoid losing momentum when standing.

One of the tricks is to make sure you begin your stand on a power stroke (coming over the top of your pedal stroke). This takes practice to get it right, but it really smoothes the transition from sitting to standing, and there should be no loss of momentum.

Standing gives you a more powerful stroke, so on a moderate slope, shift up one gear (to a harder gear) to add a little resistance so you don't over spin.
like everything, it dependsDougSloan
Sep 23, 2002 1:12 PM
Lighter guys seem to stand more; it helps develop more power, but at the cost of more energy and oxygen, as you are supporting almost all your weight with your legs. Lighter guys have less weight to support, so standing is relatively easier.

Carmicheal preaches seated climbing, and Lance has become known for sitting and spinning. However, if you watch him in races, he spends an enormous amount of time standing on the big climbs, albeit still at a fairly high cadence.

I'll mix it up a lot, as it permits some muscles to rest while using others. Sometimes I'll ride all the way up a long hill standing just for the training. Usually, though, if I stand it mostly because I'm running out of gas seated, run out of gear and must stand, or just to get the weight off the butt for a while.

There is no reason to inherently slow when standing. If people are doing that, it's likely because they just aren't paying attention or are pegged.