Hill training

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Hill training

Postby tuco » Sat Jan 13, 2007 9:52 am

I need to improve my hill climbing as 40% of our seasons races will involve hills. One is a time trial up a hill.

I've swapped walking up and down steep bush tracks for cycling over the last two weeks and the improvement to my few rides has been quite noticable.

In a 40km ride today I sat on 35km/h (in a group) for 13.5 kms which considering I've only ridden 4 times since xmas eve is good. I've never done that before. My best before that was 8km.
Over the last two weeks I've dropped from 170km per week to about 50km per week yet I felt stronger than ever out riding today.

Tomorrow I hope to tackle a few hills to see how it's improved my hill climbing.

My thighs haven't been this well developed since I played footy back in my youth.

I'll give the bush tracks a few more weeks then ease off and increase the riding kms and see how I go after that.
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by BNA » Sat Jan 13, 2007 10:39 am

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Postby europa » Sat Jan 13, 2007 10:39 am

As I understand it (being a non-practitioner of riding up big hills :roll: ), technique is more important than strength. We've got quite a few nasty climbs around here, a couple of which are quite long, and I'm finding that I'm slowly getting the hang of spinning up them. I haven't quite got the hang of standing to climb yet - it's good only for a short, sprint like burst.

However, since converting the Europa to fixie (the Black Beast didn't make it out of the dining room this week :roll: ), where you find yourself getting out of the saddle at the drop of a hat, I've started to think a bit about hill training ... and I've got the advantage of living in a hilly area so Tuco might have trouble finding a suitable ride for what I'm about to suggest.

Thinking along the lines of interval training, find a bit of rolling road (or maybe a shortish circuit that includes a hill), the intervals being the shortish climb with the resting part being the rush down hill and a bit of flat between (so a circuit might be better). Rather than choosing your gears based on effort though, which is part of the skill but I'm thinking of building leg strength here, climb the hills in ONE gear. Next session, or when you're feeling up to to it, use the next gear up.

This is just a thought that's still developing (and I can see holes in the idea already). But I like the idea of short bursts followed by a break, and gradually making them harder as time goes by. This'd only be the strengthening part of it of course - you'd also have to do long climbs to build endurance and you'd have to have sessions where you're refining your gear selection and technique.

In my case, I am tempted towards using the Europa with a eye to slowly increasing the gearing as I get stronger.

First though, I've got to find a suitable course.

I've worked out a 5km test loop. It involves flat running, climbs and down hill runs. Near the end is a short but vicious climb that has a km climb leading up to it, so it's a real test of strength and endurance. The idea is to time myself over the loop once a month or so. I also thought I'd use my Europa as this would remove the gearing from the equation.

Did my first run around it on the Europa day before yesterday, knowing that final climb would be a problem - hah. Problem? I barely made it up the climb that approaches it and on the final bit, got part way up and found that I couldn't even turn the gear :shock: Dead set, I got halfway through a stroke and the cranks basically stopped ... so I walked the rest of it. On the Black Beast, I just granny gear and spin up that slope (doing the 'dead man' imitation at the top I might add). I reckon the Europa is one tooth over geared at the moment but it's useable so I'm going to stick with it for a bit ... besides, I'm too ikey to buy yet another cog.

But I must be getting stronger and fitter if I can even consider stuff like this.

Last night, around the velodrome on the Europa, I managed a lap (it's a 500m lap at our velodrome) at over 40 km/hr and held 48 km/hr for the length of the back straight :D - I've got a basic computer fitted. Man, I knew I'd done that - with my gearing, my cadence along the back straight was 145 :shock:

Richard
wonder why I feel tired today? :wink:
Last edited by europa on Sat Jan 13, 2007 12:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby mikesbytes » Sat Jan 13, 2007 11:08 am

Hi Tuco, I'm one of the stronger vetran hill climbers around, but it didn't just fall into my lap. In my case, the improvement came from simply sprinting up every hill to/from work, with a heavy back pack. I've been doing this for years, but when I first started, my legs felt like they were going to explode.

It basically boils down to power to weight ratio, both of which will improve as you do more riding. After that its mind set, yeh !!! attitude will get you over the hill a little quicker.

Technique is a personal thing. Seated with a higher cadence is more efficent. Standing with a lowercadence will permit you to use your back and arms and apply more power, it also rests the muscles from the seated riding. Try different techniques and even change technique mid hill. However I'd recommend on smaller hills to get out of the saddle and power over in the same gear you were in on the flat, or close to it, you can start just before the hill with a bit of a run-up.

Cheers Mike.
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Postby tuco » Sat Jan 13, 2007 11:20 am

europa wrote:Last night, around the velodrome on the Europa, I managed a lap (it's a 500m lap at our velodrome) at over 40 km/hr and held 48 km/hr for the length of the back straight :D - I've got a basic computer fitted. Man, I knew I'd done that - with my gearing, my cadence along the back straight was 145 :shock:

Richard
wonder why I feel tired today? :wink:


Holly crap, that's pretty good.

Like all aspects of a sport technique is important back if you haven't got the muscle to put the technique into practice then you may as well stay at home. As you said, standing on the pedals is only for short bursts. It helps stretch out your legs and give certain muscles a short rest. I've been told to sit back on the seat, hands closer together on the flat of the handlebars and use my arms as well as legs. When this gets hard then stand for a few pedals then sit back down.

The main problem I've had with hills is I've felt like I'm about to drop dead. High heart rate and lots of big deep breaths.

Sadly we don't have anything which resembles your hill test track close by. There is one but it's 20kms out of town. ( I know, ride there!)

With the walking up these tracks, it takes 15 minutes to walk up the 1 km track and most of the tracks have no flat areas. I feel if I can walk up these steep tracks non stop for 15 minutes then I should be able to handle any hills in the area without much trouble. Lately I've even found the tracks are getting easier to walk up.
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Postby europa » Sat Jan 13, 2007 12:48 pm

What's the technique for standing and sprinting? Hands on hoods? Down on the hooks? When would you use each? I know about letting the bike roll underneath you so you're weight is centred over the pedal. Pull with the arms and back.


The main problem I've had with hills is I've felt like I'm about to drop dead. High heart rate and lots of big deep breaths.


I'm still aspiring to deep breaths - I tend to use desperate gasps :D Climbing up Flagstaff Hill the other day, a widely acknowledged sod of a climb, every expelled breath carried a blasphemous gasp of agony. But I'm getting better. It's all incremental isn't it. The frustrating days are the ones where you get out there and find you have zero leg strength - I probably don't rest enough ... and then have a few days where I'm lazy.

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Test loop

Postby europa » Sat Jan 13, 2007 1:19 pm

Here's my 5km test loop Tuco. It's fun when you click on 'elevation'.

No, I don't start and finish where indicated, I start and finish from my front door which is just off to one side of the track, but I don't intend to tell people exactly where I live :D

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Postby tuco » Sat Jan 13, 2007 2:04 pm

europa wrote:What's the technique for standing and sprinting? Hands on hoods? Down on the hooks? When would you use each? I know about letting the bike roll underneath you so you're weight is centred over the pedal. Pull with the arms and back.

Richard


Officially I don't know but I feel more confident with my hands near the hoods when standing. I feel I have more control.
I tend to drop back a gear when standing up hill. Maybe a no no but it works for me.

I'll have to look into making circuit of our race track just for my interest. It's also 4.4km
Pity the elevation graph doesn't have distance along the bottom.

Looks like you have a good course there.
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Re: Test loop

Postby tuco » Sat Jan 13, 2007 5:07 pm

europa wrote:Here's my 5km test loop Tuco. It's fun when you click on 'elevation'.

Richard


Here's our race circuit. It shows it a little short too but in the blurry part I straightened out the road.

http://www.bikely.com/maps/bike-path/Oak-Valley

The hill is about a 40m rise in 350m distance. We ride in an anticlockwise direction.
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Postby europa » Sat Jan 13, 2007 6:02 pm

Make that your test route. Seriously. I like the idea of a known route over which you can test yourself. Take your track bike over it if you like :twisted:

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Postby mikesbytes » Sat Jan 13, 2007 9:24 pm

europa wrote:What's the technique for standing and sprinting? Hands on hoods? Down on the hooks? When would you use each? I know about letting the bike roll underneath you so you're weight is centred over the pedal. Pull with the arms and back.


Hands down in the drops. Don't think about what you are doing, just focus on going faster.
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Postby tuco » Sun Jan 14, 2007 9:01 pm

Bloody hell, i just walked up our local hill on the road instead of the tracks.
2.5km distance and about 200m up ( depending on where you start) and I honestly can not believe I rode up it. There's no up AND down, its ALL up.

I did a few small hills today. I found one (road) hill which I find it hard to believe they could legally build houses on.

I have a feeling my legs can take the moderate hill climbs but where I'm having trouble is my breathing (and high heart rate).

Back in my running days I regulated my breathing. IE Three steps breathing in and three steps breathing out or two of I was going harder. I thinking this may be a tactic I can use for moderate hills. I used it in the second halve of the hill walk tonight and I reckon it helped.
Even if it takes my mind off the fact I'm climbing a hill then it's got to help.
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Postby europa » Sun Jan 14, 2007 10:35 pm

Taking your mind off the exercise has to help - I reckon I talk myself out of climbs before the body gives up more often than not. How else would explain my second attempt at any nasty hill being worse than the first :?

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Postby LuckyPierre » Mon Jan 15, 2007 9:20 pm

I've got some stuff somewhere on training for hills. I'll post it when I find it!
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Postby sogood » Mon Jan 15, 2007 10:02 pm

mikesbytes wrote:I've been doing this for years, but when I first started, my legs felt like they were going to explode.

Amazing... It's my lung that explodes while my legs just turn to jelly.
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Postby sogood » Mon Jan 15, 2007 10:06 pm

tuco wrote:Like all aspects of a sport technique is important back if you haven't got the muscle to put the technique into practice then you may as well stay at home.

Not quite.

If you don't have that highly developed muscle, then just drop two gears and spin/stand from those easier gears using the same technique.

At the end of the day, agree with Mikebytes, it's personal. But necessarily depends on the type of hill/mountain being challenged and one's physical ability.
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Postby sogood » Mon Jan 15, 2007 10:09 pm

tuco wrote:The main problem I've had with hills is I've felt like I'm about to drop dead. High heart rate and lots of big deep breaths.

That's a sign of being in the anaerobic zone. You'll need to develop more strength in those muscles as well as training to improve your muscle's anaerobic threshold.
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Postby sogood » Mon Jan 15, 2007 10:15 pm

tuco wrote:I did a few small hills today. I found one (road) hill which I find it hard to believe they could legally build houses on.

Try Baldwin St, Dunedin. World's steepest street with 19° or 35% gradient.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baldwin_Street,_Dunedin

Enjoy riding up!
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Postby sogood » Mon Jan 15, 2007 10:26 pm

As far as I understand it and practice, the keys to climbing are,

-Keep your upper body and arms relaxed and chest open.
-Concentrate on your breathing and get into a sustainable rhythm.
-Pick a sustainable gear when seated and spinning around 60-80rpm.
-Every so often (various seat:stand ratios quoted include 20:20, 20:5 etc) up 2 gears and stand to change the muscles being used.
-Every so often, change the hand position b/n on the top and over the hood. The drop position is probably not advisable for sustained and high gradient climbs as it restricts your breathing.
-Pedal in circles and don't forget to put some power in the upstroke.

Oh yes, rock that bike if you do stand. It looks PRO if nothing else! :D
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Postby europa » Tue Jan 16, 2007 12:47 am

sogood wrote:Oh yes, rock that bike if you do stand. It looks PRO if nothing else! :D


What's Pro about the ruddy bike wanting to lie down and have a rest :?

Good list of points there.

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Postby tuco » Tue Jan 16, 2007 7:22 am

Interesting points everyone.

The power on the upstroke - I still only have straps, not clipless, so I really only pushing down on the pedals.

So changing a gear or two is normal or okay to do when standing. That's what I've been doing.

The anaerobic zone is another one I'll be looking into.

Meanwhile I'll wait patiently for Peter's hill climbing stuff.
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Postby europa » Tue Jan 16, 2007 9:16 am

On a lighter note - driving my daughter down for her swimming lessons this morning, I passed a pro team warming up for tonights Tour Down Under prologue. They were climbing up my 'terror hill' and I was most gratified to see that while they weren't struggling, they were making hard work of it :D

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Postby sogood » Tue Jan 16, 2007 9:28 am

europa wrote:On a lighter note - driving my daughter down for her swimming lessons this morning, I passed a pro team warming up for tonights Tour Down Under prologue. They were climbing up my 'terror hill' and I was most gratified to see that while they weren't struggling, they were making hard work of it :D

They are riding up that hill on their 3kg training wheels, and at twice your speed! :wink:
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Postby tuco » Tue Jan 16, 2007 9:54 am

I've got another point for Sogood's list.

Weight or lack of.

In a strange coincidence I was standing at the door with a laptop in a bag over one shoulder and a regular bag over the other while waiting for the cat to finish eating. I didn't want to lock the poor bastard inside. It would have cooked him.

Anyway, I was curious as to how much I was carrying. I few steps to the left (it's not a big house) and I was on the scales. The bags and laptop weighed 10kgs.

Yet another coincidence, that's how much I'm want to lose.
I imaged riding up a hill carrying these two bags and I'm sure my heart actually stopped for a few seconds. I'll have to get a little more serious than I am about getting rid of those extra kilos.
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