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I love climbing, but..(29 posts)

I love climbing, but..rhall32
Jan 9, 2002 2:01 PM
..I've pretty much resigned myself to being a "non-climber", as much as I dislike that term. Sure, on the short to mid-size rollers I have no problems hanging with the real climbers, but on anything longer than 1 mile.. I usually get dropped.

Physically, I've always had thick shoulders, arms and quads. Several years of hard training have reduced the muscle mass a bit, but now I think I'm nearly as low as I can go (5'11", 182 lbs, 9% fat) and my BMI is still over 25. I feel that if I can get my weight down into the 170s, I will climb lots better. But boy will that be tough for me..

So for now, I guess I just have to stay content with my strengths (workhorse, sprinting, leadouts). We have no shortage of long sustained climbs around here, and I love using them for training. But come race time, my heart always skips a beat when I see that big climb approaching.. cause I know its gonna hurt bad. =)

I'd be interested in hearing advice from any bigger riders who feel they can hang with the climbers on the long ascents. Perhaps a large part of it is mental for me. But I don't think so since I'm usually the last rider my size to get shelled on the climbs.. in the 1,2,3s at least.


I feel your pain,Roger
Jan 9, 2002 2:57 PM
I'm probably not the caliber racer you are, if yer racing 1,2,3s, but I'm in the same boat, I'm 6ft and about 8 lbs heavier than you. I'm to a point where I may be able to lose about 8 to 10lbs more but that's at a strict strict diet. For my size I consider myself to be an above average climber, but hanging with the lil guys is mucho work and almost always deflating. There is one guy that I occasionally ride with, that is also gravity challenged but is able to sustain on long climbs and not get dropped (and sometimes do the dropping), his advice to me was...just climb more than anyone else, so you're stronger and better prepared. I know that's probably no help, just wanted to let you know you're not alone.

Good luck.
re: I love climbing, but..allervite
Jan 9, 2002 4:28 PM
One of my team mates is 5'8" and 180 lbs., and he climbs exceptionaly well. He says his secret is a lot of power and strength intervals on hills. He climbs with a pretty big gear too. He is not explosive on the climbs, he just keeps reelin us back.
re: 5'8" - 180chrisbaby
Jan 15, 2002 8:32 AM
That's me too. I just do a lot of hills and spin up them to avoid lactic acid burn in my thighs. the shorter climbs I can power up as well as any body, bu the longer ones do challenge me. Climbing is your limiter as Joe Friel would say, so concentrate on climbing.
Broad shouldersKerry Irons
Jan 9, 2002 5:44 PM
Are you doing any upper body exercises to keep those broad shoulders? If so, quit. At your body fat level, you're carrying extra muscle to be 182 lb and 5'11. I'm 6', 180 lb and probably 5-8% higher body fat than you. Not to say you'll be a great climber, but losing 10 lb would certainly help.
Climb like a Pantani in 10 weeks--guaranteed!Kyle
Jan 10, 2002 9:18 AM
Go to the hospital and have someone put your arms and shoulders in casts--or, if you're one of those people who likes to take the easy way out, you could do one at a time, I suppose. Doubles your training time tho :)

Don't laugh too hard--I had a freind who quit the US biathalon team and decided he wanted to be a rock climber. He actually considered having his legs put in cast. Nothing like insane obsession to spur creativity...
how would he stand up on the wall face?climbo
Jan 11, 2002 8:29 AM
you'd still needs legs, I get jittery legs climbing long routes, he (your friend) sounds crazy to me.
If you cut off one of his legs...Kyle
Jan 11, 2002 9:05 AM
he'd still have a stronger lower body than me.

He probably just wanted to do it because all us skinny sport climbers used to use him as a pack mule. We'd load him up with everything we needed except maybe a few draws (which we would generously carry ourselves.)

I remember a time in Thailand when it was about 110 degrees that he got so overheated getting to the base of the route that when you belayed him it was like it was raining sweat. A bunch of Germans actually had to come over and move their gear under a tree...
Having said all this, he is crazy.
re: I love climbing, but..brider
Jan 10, 2002 11:55 AM
Or you could do what Lance did and go through Chemo. Nothing like some chemically forced muscle wasting to get rid of the unnecessary mass.
re: I love climbing, but..Zipper
Jan 11, 2002 8:04 AM
Climbing is just as much mental as it is physical. Work on your mental preparation when you approach a climb. Also, I think allervite brings up a good point to consider. You may not be and may never be an explosive climber but you may be able to develop an incredible ability to sustain high power output for longer periods of time. You may be the reel in type rather than the attack dog (Jan vs. Pantani).
re: I love climbing, but..Lovetoclimb
Jan 14, 2002 7:39 PM
I love to climb, mainly b/c I live at elevation(foothills of Denver). Last year I made it a goal to work on my TT skills as well as maintain my climbing skills. So far so good. I did my testing a few weeks ago and pushed 325 max watts. Ouch, I new my power is lacking. I'm currently at 139 and usually race around 133-135 and a whopping 5' 6". Zipper made a point of it being mental, this is true, when your just hangin on for dear life. I'll train with our Cat 1's and hang with tempo, but when they attack I can't make the grade. 75% is mental, just keep in there for 15-20 seconds and they usually recover. Its too easy to give up and back off. But increase your climbing by spinning and building that VO2. Do some LT intervals when you have a solid base. Get a fitness test, that way you don't train in a gray area. Do as little as possible to get the most improvement. Good luck!
Power output looks strange...Kyle
Jan 15, 2002 8:57 AM
Are you sure your erg is working? Are you saying that you can sprint at a max of 325 watts and that you average 135 watts in a race?

A Cat1 tempo ride would average close to 300 watts, I would think...
Power output looks strange...Lovetoclimb
Jan 15, 2002 9:25 AM
No Max Watts is simply, the amount I pushed for about 1 minute...couldn't race at that. Watts at LT: was 200 which is more realistic in a race. I may be able to push that in a 30-45 minute TT. Though if you average it out I"m not racing at LT for 60 min or even hours if your in a road race. Ave watts may be 135 or so...just a guess though.
Its always hardLewis
Jan 14, 2002 9:33 PM
There is a reason the most famous stages in the TDF are climbing mountains.
Doesn't matter who you are, it always hurts! Alot of it is mental and your body type doesn't really matter at a club racing level. If you want to do well on long climbs you have to train on them alot. It's simple but painful.
Its always hardallervite
Jan 15, 2002 11:25 AM
As a general rule smaller guys have a significantly better strength to wieght ratio. Yes it always hurts, but at the same threshold the little guy will ride away from the big guy 9 times out of 10 even in the club scene.
Its always hardLewis
Jan 15, 2002 2:20 PM
Smaller guys have a physical advantage but at the club racing level, mental attitude, training, time on bike, time on hills matters much more.
I would say it wouldn't make a difference until you hit the Cat2 level. Cat3,4,5- other factors outweigh
Do you race? (nm)allervite
Jan 15, 2002 8:24 PM
You forgot the number 1...Wayne
Jan 17, 2002 12:40 PM
reason for differences at the club level and that's probably talent. A big guy with real talent will stomp all the small club guys with little or even average talent because they are at different points on the bell curve (almost all physiologic traits have a bell shaped distribution in a population) of aerobic ability. When you get some selection occuring so that only guys with talent (not to mention you're probably also controlling somewhat for training, racing savy, etc.) are racing (like 1,2s and especially pros) then the little guy almost always out climbs the big guy. That being said, it applies to any given individual, in the sense that to maximize you're climbing ability it's to your benefit to get as lean as you can. But to quote Lemond, "it never gets easier, you just go faster."
No way.allervite
Jan 23, 2002 12:45 PM
Why is it that even in the cat 5 races. There are but a few big guys left on the front when the race points up? Is it because they as a population do not train enough? Or are they just wimps?

No matter what Cat race you are watching, when the road points up, the little guys come forward and the bigger guys go off the back. There are a few acceptions, but the key word is "few."
yes way.Lewis
Jan 23, 2002 8:10 PM
Maybe all those "big" guys have the same mental attitude as you. Cat5 is where weight matters the least. A 180lb. rider can walk away from a featherweight in Cat5. Training, mental toughness, attitude have much more importance.

Yes, once you start reaching the physical extremes (like pro riders) the physical limitations matter. At any level below that, you have no excuse.

If you want to do well in the mountains, train on them. It's that simple. If you use your physical attributes as a crutch than thats your problem.

There are great sprinters that are rail thin. There are great climbers that are stocky. Very little of what makes a great rider is physical. If you dont understand that then you dont understand what it is to be great.
Mentality, training.allervite
Jan 25, 2002 10:59 PM
Are very important, but that's not all there is. You are saying, if you are mentaly tough and train, you will be the best climber no matter your physiology. I have a hard time believing you have raced much. The smarter riders (especially in the lower Cats) beat the strong riders all the time. And the Cat V's do train. To be competitive in cat V, most coaches will tell you that you must train at leasy 13 hours a week. Cat III's train a lot more. Some as much as the pros. Genetics and physiology matter. Some big riders can climb: Jan Ullrich, Indurain. But they are the exception to the rule. Once again, in the Cat V races when it gets steep, yes there are some big guys who hang in their, And yes, plenty of smaller guys get dropped too, but the group is mostly made up of smaller guys. Why? because they have a better strength to weight ratio, a physiolgical advantage. That is a hard fact. The problem with your argument is that for the most part Cat V's race other Cat V's; Pros race other Pros. It's not a pack full of weekend warriors versus Peter VanPetegem. If a Cat V trains a ton more, they upgrade and race others who train a lot more too, so the playing field stays somewhat level even when it comes to training and mental toughness. This is not a defeatest attitude, this is just a fact.

You are right that training in the hills will help you climb better. But you cannot believe yourself into being Eddy Merckx or Roberto Heras. If you could, most of us would be pros rather than club racers. Cat V Joe can train his ass off and get a PHD in Sports Psychology, but he's most likely never going to be pro. Why? Genetics and Physiology.

Merkx could climb, but Alcala climbed better. Bartoli could climb, but Coppi climbed better. Indurain could climb, but Chiapucci climbed better. Ullrich can climb, but there are plenty of smaller guys who can outclimb him. Name any great, large framed racer, and you can name a smaller guy who probably had far fewer wins, but could still out climb him.

Divide the Cat V's up across the nation and far more of the smaller guys will outclimb the bigger guys.

I am not saying that you cannot be competitive if you are over 180 lbs. I am just saying it's going to be hard to outclimb most of the 130 pound guys. A 180 pound guy can stay with the group on the climbs, but not many of them. That's just physics.

As far as my attitude goes, you know nothing about me. I know nothing about you. I will not stoop to your level and Make this personal. However, for what its worth I do just fine in the hills, and race the expert class on the mountain bike. I train with the local Road Club.
Get your head straight.Lewis
Jan 27, 2002 3:17 PM
I did not say you will be the best climber no matter what your physiology.
Hey, you are the one that got offended. I didnt imply any personal attack. I am saying that you have to wrong attitude with regard to climbing.
I find it amusing that you somehow know how all the category riders stack up nationally. You have to tell me that trick. I have raced internationally and haven't noticed the riders weight as a factor.
There are no excuses. Saying that someone can't hang in the hills because they are not a featherweight is crazy.

Yes, you do have a defeatest attitude. No, you cannot judge a rider's capabilities based on weight. I don't set those kind of limitations on my racing (I am 156lbs.), I don't impose those silly limitations on others or let anyone I know believe that kind of crap.
Whether you race Div3 or expert mountain bike or are just starting out, sky is the limit.
The Warrior will tell you the same thing. It is your spirit that propels you to greatness not your body. Who said that to me, who is the Warrior? Michele Bartoli. Somehow I chose to believe him, not you.
Jan 28, 2002 4:47 PM
I'll straighten it as soon as I pull it outta my ***. Reading back through our little argument, I get the feeling we are like the Democrat and the Republican arguing about an issue that we agree about more that disagree about. Sometimes arguments develop a life of their own.

As a racer you should have the attitude that you are the best. I personally psych up before a race and try to adopt an armor plated, rocket propelled, Greek demi god attitude.

I never said that a rider could not hang in the hills because of his weight; you are right that you cannot judge a rider's capabilities based on his weight. There are Big guys that can Climb, and small guys that can sprint.

All I ever meant to say is that a lighter rider has a physiological advantage in the hills; no more, no less.

Of course there are many other factors involved. Weight is just one of them, and not neccesarily the most imprortant one. If you read one of my first posts on this subject, I take the point of view that with the right training a very big guy can learn to climb well.

Cool, you got to talk with a great rider like Bartoli(I can't believe you would believe him over a great anonymous internet poster like me though). I have met a few famous riders myself both MTB and Road. If you race Sea Otter, I'll buy you a beer or a sparkling water, which ever you prefer.

The one thing I won't let you have is that "No, I do not have a defeatest attitude." I only see other's limitations not mine own, at least not until after the race.
back to this power output thingBigLeadOutGuy
Jan 15, 2002 4:56 PM
whats the deal with the watts? I never paid attention to them till I got a trainer that measures watts. My readings are pretty high....885 max and 590 average...for a minute long does this correlate into climbing?
Only correlates to minute long climbs.allervite
Jan 15, 2002 8:29 PM
It means a big lead out guy can generate some serious watts in a sprint. Climbing of course is a strength vs. weight problem. A little guy only needs little watts to climb well. A big guy needs big watts to climb well.
Jan 16, 2002 8:34 AM
A very good climber (ie a TDF podium threat) might be able to maintain close to a 3 to 1 power/weight ratio for a half an hour. If you can do 2/1 for this amount of time, there aren't going to be too many normal humans shaking you loose.

I believe I once read that Mario C. can ramp up to around 2000 watts in a sprint--though I'm a little hazy on that number.
Jan 17, 2002 3:59 PM
I've read the same numbers for Cippo, and top trackies: 1800to 2000 watts at peak power, but
that's only for a second or two. Lance's power at lactate threshold is about 3 times his body weight, and
as we know, nobody can stay with him. Power of two times body weight for half an hour at a
time will drop most Cat 3s and below I would think.
You'd think that more of this data...Kyle
Jan 18, 2002 7:37 AM
would be available now that people are starting to use power measuring devices more. Maybe a post on the subject of power output vs performance in a category.

I can do about 1.7x bodyweight at 6500ft above sea level now, but when the hammer goes down in the local group ride, the good bikers go away from me (some depressingly quickly.)
Unfortunately, I have no real perspective because I live in a town too small to have categories and there are a lot of really talented athletes (and former Olympians) living here. Someday, I'm going to have to pack up my bike and try riding somewhere else.

My goal for fall is to do 1.8x for .5hrs. It's going to be a long hard training season...
Jon, how do you measure this. . .allervite
Jan 18, 2002 4:22 PM
How many watts equal a pound or kilogram?