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What is it with climbing?(45 posts)

What is it with climbing?GileyD
May 15, 2003 1:14 AM
What is it with climbing?

I love it, every time I plan a route I include as many climbs as possible. Riding on the flat is ok (as long as it's not into a headwind!), fast downhills are a rush, but IMO you just can't beat grinding up a long steep climb.

Question is why? After all, to non-cyclists and the majority of beginners the thought of riding UPHILL is quite horrific, possibly a necessary evil on occasions, but never something to be done out of choice.

There are a couple of climbs near me that I am damn near addicted to, two sides of the same hill. I can see the top from my house, it's about 5 or 6 miles away with a church tower on the top which stands out against the skyline. They are both narrow singletrack lanes with very little traffic and great scenery. Each have very steep (though short) sections that hurt like hell if you are really going for it. If I go more than about 2 weeks without riding them I start pining for them – bigtime!

I have come across some riders though who avoid climbs whenever possible. Was heading for another local favourite recently, (Brassknocker Hill, average about 20%, less than a mile long though) and hooked up with a club rider who thought I was mad to be riding up there, he said he always took the long way round as the climb just hurt too much.

Ok, so I'm skinny guy (5'11", 148lbs) which helps, and where I live (SW England) there are few climbs more than 3 miles long. If I lived in the Alps, Pyranees, Colorado etc I may change my tune (though I doubt it).

If you like to climb – why? And are there people out there who hate it?
For me...Smiker
May 15, 2003 2:11 AM
Climbing seems to be enjoyable, but not always during the climb. I find the satisfaction of being on top (on making it) the enjoyable part. Perhaps I don't enjoy it as much because for the same height, I weigh almost 20lbs more?

Although at a race on sunday, most of the passing I did was on a long climb.

But I don't go out of my way to avoid, or ride climbs. Too average for my own good perhaps?

such a joywielerpret
May 15, 2003 2:53 AM
The Netherlands are generally as flat as a pancake. Once a year a few mates and I travel to Belgium to ride in the Ardennes. The highlight of the year. The satisfaction you get from steadily climbing for kilometres on end with your breath under control is enormous. One tries to conquer the mountain, and triumphs. To me the Italian mountains have all this to an even higher degree.
Dutch former '70s pro Tim Krabbe writes about how his wrists lie flat on the bars, the quivering hairs on them, the glistening beads of sweat. 'I find my wrists to be very beautiful. I am climbing.'
Enjoy. Luke. Amsterdam.
The challenge...biknben
May 15, 2003 3:44 AM
I enjoy the climb for the same reason others fear them. It's a painful challenge.

The more people think I'm nuts or sick...The more I want to do it.

I'm signed up to do Mt. Washington this summer. I'm hoping to do it with a 39x27 low gear. I could throw on a triple, or use some funky MTB drivetrain, but the more I think about it the less I want to modify. My friend, who will be doing it with me, said that might be a mistake. That's all the incentive I need to train a little harder.

"Pain is weakness leaving the body"
You might want to rethink your gearingpitt83
May 15, 2003 3:57 AM
I admit I'm not the strongest or lightest climber in the world, but try and go lower than that. I went 24x23 last year and am going 24x12-17 this time. Good tips on this race at their website. The fourm board has some info, but is now largely polluted with personal quips and little real information.

Any climb is a tremendous accomplishment. Looking down on where you've come from is exhilirating. I have a hill on my commute which is 9% and only 1km, but I try and punch it every day. Ramping up the candence, dropping the gearing, knowing what you're in for, is great fun.
Why do you hate yourself? (nm)Val_Garou
May 15, 2003 4:06 AM
Why do you doubt yourself???biknben
May 15, 2003 4:26 AM
Hate myself??? Not at all.

I find it very satisfying to see disbelief in the face of others. I often travel (2 hours) to where I grew up. There are nice climbs in the 9-10% average. This one climb gets backed up with traffic so cars go by really slow in both directions. The looks on people's faces are priceless. They don't understand why I'm riding up this mountain and their expression shows it. I find it hilarious and use it as fuel to keep me going. The +50mph descent on the other side helps too. :-)
Just tweaking you a bit.Val_Garou
May 15, 2003 5:09 AM
Climbs are probably one of the most rewarding aspects of bike riding.
you're skinny -- that says it alltarwheel
May 15, 2003 4:58 AM
Almost without except, all of the good climbers I know are skinny and often small. For us bigger guys, climbing can be torture -- particularly when you're trying to keep up with the skinny guys. I actually enjoy climbing (OK, sort of) when riding solo or with someone else of my riding abilities and size. It's just trying to hang with the skinny guys that makes it so painful. When I ride at my own pace, the hills aren't nearly so bad. And I love going downhill, the only advantage to weighing more. My question is: Why do so many skinny little climber dudes coast on the downhills? That's when us bigger guys try to make up time. It drives me crazy when skinny little guys bust ass uphill and then lollygag on the way down.
sometimes one of the "lollygagers"theBreeze
May 15, 2003 12:02 PM
(lollygag- what a great word!)

Maybe they are just waiting for you to catch up?

I'm, not a skinny guy, but a pretty small woman. Yeah, I bust a$$ getting up a hill because I know you bigger guys are going to come flying down past me on the down side. Hey, I just plain run out of gravity.

Personally it's the rollers I hate. The hills aren't long enough to stress the strong guys, and once again I get wasted on the downside. Any little gap on those things and I am out the back!

But give me a long hard climb and see ya' somewhere over the top!
have comfort...wielerpret
May 16, 2003 3:57 AM
..from the thought that actual coasting downhill doesn't really occur unless the follower is tired of life. You always need some distance because with speeds to 70kms an hour you can't possibly estimate when someone in front of you will brake. The lighter weight guys rather not put in superfluous effort to pass the big guys when they can gain uphill, well, automatically. Sensible, I think. So, learn to descend in a true Paolo Savoldelli, 'the Eagle' style and show them all your backside is my advice. (hands deep into the bars; just a little pressure on the upper pedal in turns; preferably no steering with a knee out) Cheers. Luke. Amsterdam
re: if you like climbing, here's a ride for youcyclopathic
May 15, 2003 5:08 AM maybe it will cure you ;)
400mi/27,000' or about 7,000' per 100mi. However numbers don't tell the whole story. First there's 110mi flat section in the middle, second what ride lacks in vertical gain it makes up in grades; there're very few climbs under 12%, some sections in mid/upper 20s. Terrain is similar to what you're used to short/steep climbs with 800 to 1500' gain.


PS and yeah, there's about 60% DNF rate and majority runs 1:1 gearing (triples with 12-25 or MTB cass)
6'0 205lbs and I love to climb.....fliparagon
May 15, 2003 5:33 AM
although most people would call me a masher, I too look for hills on all our rides we plan. Maybe it has to do with my MTB'ing background but there's nothing like a challenge when looking ahead of you and seeing the road start to take an angle up.

I have a buddy who initially HATED climbs and would avoid riding with our group just because of the amount of hills we do but just this last weekend, I duped him into coming with us ("Yeah, this route is mostly flats today") and we had to take a small but challenging hill by PCH (Newport Coast for you Orange County locals). Two miles, 10% grade.

My buddy Dave looked at me with a pissed off look when we started the climb. I kept on checking my rear every few hundred yards to see his progress and check to see if he wouldn't bail out. He kept coming and coming, even passing some riders in another group. After he arrived at the top where we were waiting, I expected to hear an abundance of profanity but, he was grinning from ear to ear. "So, what's next?"

I think he caught the bug!
re: if you like climbing, here's a ride for youGileyD
May 15, 2003 5:37 AM
Tarwheel - yeah, sure being a skinny guy certainly helps, though the downside is that I don't kick out a lot of power. On shorter climbs the bigger (20-40lbs +) guys I ride with still cause me pain simply 'cos they are a lot stronger, it's only on long or very steep (20% +) climbs that I seem to have an advantage. Equally, on descents the bigger guys just freewheel away from me cos of their greater weight.

Cyclopathic - that looks like a hell of a ride. Yup, could rethink my attitude to climbing on that one I reckon!!
re: backgroundcyclopathic
May 15, 2003 6:51 AM
Fingerlakes were formed after last Ice Age. Glassier meltdown created deep narrow gorges and roads were put on paper in straight lines w/o anyone looking at topology. When engineers got up there to build the roads, they just said screw it and put it as it was drawn. So unlike unplanned roads done by ox carts steep grade doesn't just kicks up, it also stays up 8-)

Any single climb on Quadzilla is not particularly hard. They're all doable, even on doubles and 12-23 or 12-25. What gets you it is all you get and after you do yet another MoFo climb 20-40 times you won't be looking toward next. It is a bit different from doing 50mi ride with 2-3 tough hills. OD is the best cure for addiction. Out of guys who DNF are 3-time Mt Washington climbers and BMB finishers with under 65hr times.

I'll be back when my knees heal.
re: What is it with climbing?toronto-rider
May 15, 2003 5:54 AM
I love to climb, I am 5"11 about 170, where I live is very flat (Toronto, Ontario) but any short hill I will sometimes wait for another cyclist at the bottom and race them up to the top. Unless I am ridding by my self I will always try to be the 1st one up a hill if I am ridding in a group. When I lived in South Africa I loved going up steep hills and feeling the burn in your legs.

Question on gearing, I am going on my dream vacation, 2 week Tour de France tour – all mountain stages. The biggest gear that ultegra comes in is 12-27. Will I be able to handle Mont Ventoux.
12x27 should be fine...philippec
May 15, 2003 6:31 AM
especially if you are coming up from Sault (to the east). If you are unsure, just slap on a 38 chainring up front. There will a distinct point on each of the other two sides (the first 8kms past Bedoin if you are coming up from the south and the few kms. following the "belvedere" if you are coming up from Malaucene in the North) where you will a). question your sanity, b). cry for your mother and c). contemplate throwing your bike off the mountain and never getting on one of those contraptions again. Just work through the pain and the difficulty will ease up near to the top. Manage your effort near the top and don't rise too suddenly from the saddle to complete the final steep 200 metres lest the cramps overtake you!

Bon courage,

so you don't thinkcyclopathic
May 16, 2003 5:21 AM
doing South and then North slope on the same ride is not a good idea? I'll have a few days before PBP and plan to ride from Avignon
cyclists are masochists (nm)ColnagoFE
May 15, 2003 5:59 AM
I love the smell of vomit in the morning--smells like...victory!JS Haiku Shop
May 15, 2003 6:47 AM
"Each have very steep (though short) sections that hurt like hell if you are really going for it."

any incline can hurt like hell if you use the right gearing and mindset.

at 6'2" 200# and constantly carboweiser-loading, i'm no marco pantani (circa 1998, of course). i go out of my way to ride hills, and to avoid wind. 30/32 is typical of my climbing low gear, on anything involving groveling at 60 rpm during a ride of 100 or more miles. my "friends" recently talked me into a 39/29 for a climbing century earlier this month, and i enjoyed it immensely.

it's a sickness.
Whose vomit? I think you're getting stranger. nmdzrider
May 15, 2003 6:56 AM
whose vomit? does it really matter?JS Haiku Shop
May 15, 2003 7:15 AM
i'm not getting stranger, i'm getting dumber.

stupid brevets.
The official explanation was that "He choked on vomit"pitt83
May 15, 2003 11:00 AM
They can't actually dust for vomit!
I usually don't vomit until late afternoon nmDougSloan
May 15, 2003 7:34 AM
I like passing colnagos!joeblack
May 15, 2003 6:53 AM
Climbing gives people on their expensive bikes a closer at my bike as I pass them. They can't believe that their $3K bike is going slower than my $350 bike. :)
They should turn their backs to the road when peeing! nmdzrider
May 15, 2003 6:57 AM ain't about the bikeColnagoFE
May 15, 2003 7:36 AM
We Colnago owners aren't all snobs. Maybe those people on Colnagos are out for a recovery ride or maybe we just have more disposable income than you do and can afford to buy the bike we want to ride. Not every ride is a race for me and I could care less if I get passed if that is the kind of ride scheduled for the night. I won't judge you by the looks of your cheap bike if you don't judge me by my Colnago. Sound OK?
sounds like a snob to me...joeblack
May 15, 2003 8:26 AM
"...maybe we just have more disposable income than you do..." sounds like a snob to me!

Guys, I'm just joking around here. I was referring to ALL expensive bikes, anyways. Just wanted to make my heading interesting. BTW, I chose to buy another dirt bike instead of an expensive road bike. So, my poor self has enough disposable income to have 3 dirt bikes. I race dirt bikes. Passing you guys on hills on my cheap bike is just something I do in my spare time.
sounds like a snob to me...kimParker
May 16, 2003 4:43 AM
I like passing men on the climbs .... on my Colnago!
I also like passing Porsches in my 1988 Honda Civic....Bruno S
May 15, 2003 11:27 AM
I must be better than them becuase of this.
good analogy?(nm)joeblack
May 15, 2003 11:44 AM
Yes...Bruno S
May 15, 2003 1:01 PM
people buy expensive bikes mostly for pleasure not because they need them. People also buy expensive sports cars for pleasure since they cannot be driven to their maximum speed on the street. If you want to know how fast a guy is look at the legs not at the bike.
you must own an expensive bike!joeblack
May 15, 2003 7:24 PM
Everyone has a hobby they spend money on. But, you can't compare bicycles to automobiles. "Want to check out my new Porsche? How about taken it for a spin?" You can say this to your average household guest and they'll be interested. "Want to check out my new 'expensive' bicycle?" You won't get the same response. Don't get my wrong, I am a fan of cycling (watching both races on OLN). Your use of automobiles in an analogy is bad. BTW, if you want to know if a guy is fast, just look at the car.
I like passing colnagos!4bykn
May 15, 2003 12:21 PM
Passing Colnagos....Oh man, that's gotta hurt ;)
love climbing, unless I'm racingDougSloan
May 15, 2003 7:09 AM
I love climbing, but I relatively suck at it. Lots of people I can out time trial or sprint kill me on the climbs. Basically, I have the upper body of a sprinter and the legs of a climber. Not good.

I like the challenge, the descent afterwards (50+ mph), seeing the valleys get lower and lower on every switchback, trying to beat my best time, and the smell of the clean air and pine trees when I get over 4,000 feet. There are HUGE climbs around here (how's a 9,000 foot climb grab you?), which makes it really fun.

you mean 9000 vertical feet climb right? (nm)ColnagoFE
May 15, 2003 7:38 AM
yes, that's net, not gross, too nmDougSloan
May 15, 2003 7:54 AM
I hate to climbkjr39
May 15, 2003 7:18 AM
I have to admit it, I'm not a big fan of climbing. But, at 6' 222lbs it's to be expected. Does that mean that I won't do or dread climbs? Not at all. I work them into my route if I can. Why? Because every pedal stroke up that hill, every time I suck a breath in, every time I feel like my legs are going to fall off I know that I am leaving part of me on that hill. I'm leaving the fat and the weakness that it brings to my body there and GD'it, I'm getting up that hill!

Hmmm, so I guess maybe I do like climbing afterall. :)
The most fun climb for me is...The Human G-Nome
May 15, 2003 7:39 AM
... at an organized century. where else can you pass 50 riders on one single climb. even more fun when you're passing the few folks who appear to be passing everyone else. it's a guilty pleasure i admit.
re: What is it with climbing?DINOSAUR
May 15, 2003 8:30 AM
I live smack in the middle of the Sierra Nevada foothills and climbing is something I can't get away from. When I first moved up here from the San Jose area in 1990 my 11-21 did not cut it. I told the guys at my LBS and they laughed at me, saying that after awhile I would love to climb. Climbing is a challenge, somedays I feel like taking on some steep climbs, other days I'll shy away from them. The biggest thing that helped me was losing weight and learning to alternate between standing and sitting. On the shorter climbs I'll stand, on the longer climbs I'll do both. I guess I like climbing as it is a challenge and there is always room for improvement (for me anyway). But when you ride hills, you also do a fair amount of descending. You can be the best climber in the world, but if you can't handle the descents you end up losing time. I guess the best way would be a combination of being fairly good at both, which for me means always working at it....gearing helps also, I use a 12-25 on one bike and a 12-27 on another...most the guys that ride here use doubles, don't see that many triples...if you weigh 148 pounds you could probably ride circles around me, I haul around 190 pounds, but descend like a lead balloon............
It's all about climbing!mtncranker
May 15, 2003 9:11 AM
I love climbing! Here in SoCal we have lots of good hills and mountains to climb - the best local climbing loop is through the Whittier Hills: the road goes up Turnbull Canyon and down into La Habra, followed by a climb up and over Colima Rd.

When I ride hills and mountains, I know I'm alive; when I just grind out the miles on the San Gabriel River bike path, it's just exercise. There's no feeling like that of looking back down a canyon and seeing how high you've come, and how quickly you seem to gain altitude!

I blew my knees running years ago, and can't take much pedal mashing - so I use my triple and spin. Not as fast, but who cares? I'm not racing, and I'm in a heck of alot better shape than the idiots passing me in their cars. The cyclists who pass me on their doubles get my salute - I hope they're enjoying the climb as much as I am! I chose my screen name here based on the joy of cranking up mountain roads - that's what it's all about!
Depends on the type of climbingbcm119
May 15, 2003 9:12 AM
I love to climb in general, I'm 6' 160 lbs, so I'm a little skinnier than average. The thing that bugs me is terrain thats so up and down that you can never get a pace, get in a zone, whatever you call it. I like extended periods of each type of riding: a half hour of flats, then a 10 mile climb, 5 mile descent. I visited my girlfriend's family in Mariposa (calif) a while ago and the terrain was really annoying- all straight up or down, no flats, no pace. I guess I'd make a poor mountain biker.
Its not about weight - its about fitnessridleyrider
May 15, 2003 9:42 AM
I love climbs too & I am GileyD's riding buddy. We both love the same climbs and there is little between us in fitness.

I am 6' 1" and weigh 196lbs which is about 50lbs more than GileyD but because I am fit I can climb as quickly. Mind you, if I weighed less I would climb even faster. Now there's an idea:-)

I am more powerfully built than him so on the really steep stuff when the gravity pulls harder, it hurts me more because of my larger muscle size but thats the joy - the challenge and beating the pain.

So, the really steep stuff (16%+) is not my fave but anything around 10% I love and can spin up all day.

I think part of the bug is seeing the fitness improvement. There is little doubt that climbing on a regular basis is wonderful for the fitness levels. Thats the main attraction to me (oh and beating my mates to the top - thats fun too:-))

I used to love climbingkilimanjaro
May 15, 2003 9:38 AM
I remember being seventeen/eighteen and loving the feeling of resistance as I push the pedal. I aslo loved passing old guys on their fancy bikes and outfits.

As I come back to cycling fifteen years, fourty pounds, and a knee operation later, now I am the guy puffing while being passed by everyone. This is specially true on the longer hills. I am working at it but progress comes slow. Though recently I had a lot of fun pulling the kids uphill on a trailer. My cadence was super low but I worked on making the stroke very smooth and it was quite fun.
re: What is it with climbing?The Walrus
May 15, 2003 11:39 AM
I'm not a great climber either, but I enjoy it because of the sense of accomplishment it yields--there's a simple, tangible result (getting to the top) as a reward for the pain and effort.

Besides, it's like beating your head against the wall--it feels so good when you stop.