Starting to tackle hills.....

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Starting to tackle hills.....

Postby peter.k » Sun Feb 07, 2010 10:54 pm

I have set myself the challenge of riding from where I live in Melton, Victoria, to Gisborne. See here...... http://www.bikely.com/maps/bike-path/melton-Gisborne

Distance is about 28km, a mix of undulating/ climbing. I rode halfway there today before turning back, which I planned to do. I did ride the hardest 4km of the ride which was a constant hard climb (for me anyway)......

while climbing, this is what I focused on:

-keeping the cadence high, not pushing too hard a gear.
-not looking at the speedo. I figure speed is not important here.
-keeping the torso, arms and neck relaxed, not pulling on the bars
-monitoring my aerobic performance.

My heart rate was pretty much maxed out by the end of the 4km climb. I was surprised at this as I have never smoked and thought it would be easier.....I am 43 years of age by the way. I regularly ride 60km, usually flat/undulating, so the climbing today was a bit of a shock.....but I love a challenge.

Is there anything else I should be doing to develop my climbing?
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by BNA » Mon Feb 08, 2010 9:03 am

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Re: Starting to tackle hills.....

Postby JV911 » Mon Feb 08, 2010 9:03 am

peter.k wrote:Is there anything else I should be doing to develop my climbing?


you've got the basics right so from here it really is a case of "practice makes perfect"

apart from that a good attitude helps i.e. don't let a hill psych you out. think "yay a hill - a challenge" :mrgreen: not "oh noes another bloody hill" :cry:. otherwise its GAME OVER
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Re: Starting to tackle hills.....

Postby 1q2w3e4r » Mon Feb 08, 2010 9:25 am

Also check your rear cassette gearing, everyone will ride what is comfortable for them.

I ride a 12-27, very rarely do I use the 27 but I like to go up hills with a cadence of about 85-90 rpm as thats what is comfortable for me. I'd rather the extra gear incase I need it than to grind away in one that is a slog.

Also try starting the hill in a gear you know you can go to the top in and then change to harder gears if you find it easier in sections rather than starting in a 21 and going back to a 25. Once you end up changing to easier gears its, much harder to go back up to a harder gear when climbing I find unless your having an exceptionally good day.
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Re: Starting to tackle hills.....

Postby Nix » Mon Feb 08, 2010 10:27 am

What I've found to help is pushing myself as hard as possible (out of the saddle, high gear) for as long as possible every time I tackle the same hill - every time I ride it, I get a little bit further up before maxing out (and then recovering for the remainder of the hill in the saddle)... I'm working on the same theory as a spin class with intervals at high intencity aimed at increasing your aerobic fitness..

Then when I ride it normally, it seems that little bit easier..

But I think what is most important is NEVER let the hill beat you! Even if you make it to the top at snails pace, keep in the saddle, otherwise it will phsyc you out even more next time
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Re: Starting to tackle hills.....

Postby ft_critical » Mon Feb 08, 2010 10:37 am

peter.k wrote:-keeping the cadence high, not pushing too hard a gear.
Is there anything else I should be doing to develop my climbing?


I think cadence and climbing is misunderstood. Most of the literature is related to experienced climbers.

Anyway, getting better at climbing is more about developing muscle strength IMO. A great drill is to find a climb shorter than your target (4km in your case) climb (so say 1km) and do hill repeats. The repeats should build up from maintaining say a gear higher than you want to, to doing three phase climbs. A three phase climb does 30% 1 gear higher, 30% 2 gears higher (or more) and then 30% standing climbing (power climbing).

Before attempting the above, because higher gear work on a bike is surely the most dangerous for your skeleto-muscular system, you need a bike fit and you need to know how to pedal properly. Secondly, if at anytime you get tired (thus lose form) or experience pain in the top of the knee/ITB discontinue exercise immediately (review fit and pedal action and frequency of climbing drills.)
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Re: Starting to tackle hills.....

Postby JV911 » Mon Feb 08, 2010 1:25 pm

ft_critical wrote:getting better at climbing is more about developing muscle strength


"power" not "strength"

2 very different things
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Re: Starting to tackle hills.....

Postby casual_cyclist » Mon Feb 08, 2010 1:27 pm

peter.k wrote:Before attempting the above, because higher gear work on a bike is surely the most dangerous for your skeleto-muscular system, you need a bike fit and you need to know how to pedal properly.

I agree with this. Last year, I jumped on a bike I was not used to (and was not set up properly for me) and started blasting hills. I rode many hundreds of kilometres of hills in a couple of weeks and while I had a blast, within a couple of weeks I developed severe shin splints. It took me more time to recover than the time I had spent on the hills in the first place :cry:

peter.k wrote:Is there anything else I should be doing to develop my climbing?

The only other thing I would suggest (besides a proper bike fit/bike setup) is to practice diaphragmatic breathing (abdominal breathing). I was struggling on our hill session last week, so really focused on breathing properly and also expelling as much air as I could on each breath. It was a bit noisy, but my hill climbing improved as soon as I started to focus on my breathing.
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Re: Starting to tackle hills.....

Postby sogood » Mon Feb 08, 2010 1:51 pm

ft_critical wrote:Anyway, getting better at climbing is more about developing muscle strength IMO...

It's power and endurance (sustained power).
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Re: Starting to tackle hills.....

Postby Nix » Mon Feb 08, 2010 1:56 pm

casual_cyclist wrote:The only other thing I would suggest (besides a proper bike fit/bike setup) is to practice diaphragmatic breathing (abdominal breathing). I was struggling on our hill session last week, so really focused on breathing properly and also expelling as much air as I could on each breath. It was a bit noisy, but my hill climbing improved as soon as I started to focus on my breathing

+1 for this - I had no idea about the proper breathing technique until trolling through livestrong.com last week - I don't know if it's the actual technique that's helping or me taking my mind off the pain of the climb but definitely works for me too..
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Re: Starting to tackle hills.....

Postby casual_cyclist » Mon Feb 08, 2010 3:18 pm

Nix wrote:
casual_cyclist wrote:The only other thing I would suggest (besides a proper bike fit/bike setup) is to practice diaphragmatic breathing (abdominal breathing). I was struggling on our hill session last week, so really focused on breathing properly and also expelling as much air as I could on each breath. It was a bit noisy, but my hill climbing improved as soon as I started to focus on my breathing

+1 for this - I had no idea about the proper breathing technique until trolling through livestrong.com last week - I don't know if it's the actual technique that's helping or me taking my mind off the pain of the climb but definitely works for me too..

For me it was the actual breathing. We were doing hill repeats and on the first two, I got bad stitches. On the third and fourth I focused on breathing properly - no stitches! 8)
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Re: Starting to tackle hills.....

Postby JV911 » Mon Feb 08, 2010 3:29 pm

casual_cyclist wrote:For me it was the actual breathing


breathing - sure beats the hell out of holding your breath! :mrgreen:

sorry, i couldnt help myself
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Re: Starting to tackle hills.....

Postby casual_cyclist » Mon Feb 08, 2010 3:43 pm

JV911 wrote:
casual_cyclist wrote:For me it was the actual breathing


breathing - sure beats the hell out of holding your breath! :mrgreen:

sorry, i couldnt help myself

Yes, holding your breath while hill climbing is not recommended. :mrgreen:
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Re: Starting to tackle hills.....

Postby peter.k » Mon Feb 08, 2010 9:15 pm

Thanks everyone for your ideas. I appreciate your help. I have alot to ponder and build into my riding. I must say again that this forum is the best I have ever joined. I have learnt so much by reading everything here.

Last time I tried hills (quite a few years ago) I was doing it all wrong. I am now older and wiser 8)

BTW, my enthusiasm for riding is rubbing off on my wife. She is losing weight and needed to start exercising. I bought her a bike yesterday, we went for our first ride today and she loved it.

Cheers, Pete
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Re: Starting to tackle hills.....

Postby Pax » Mon Feb 08, 2010 9:50 pm

Ahh hills...the best type of riding. As you get into this you're going to enjoy it, sounds like you have a good attitude for it. :D
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Re: Starting to tackle hills.....

Postby sogood » Mon Feb 08, 2010 10:02 pm

Hey guys... Just breath!

When you are on 100%, the body knows to use every possible breath muscle or it'll die. :mrgreen:
Last edited by sogood on Tue Feb 09, 2010 7:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Starting to tackle hills.....

Postby Grant W » Tue Feb 09, 2010 5:03 pm

Hey Pete,
Great to see you love the hills, not alot of people do. I do.
The biggest thing that helped me was to learn to love the hills, be patient with the accent aim to complete the climb and not completely blow up 500m from the crest.
They will punish you one week and reward you another.
I like to get out of the saddle on a climb depending on the gradient, but only for short bursts always keeping an eye on my (perceived) heart rate.
It takes time but be patient. They NEVER get easier, but you will get FASTER

Good luck,
Grant
PS +1 with Sogood with the breathing it helps big time.
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Re: Starting to tackle hills.....

Postby foo on patrol » Tue Feb 09, 2010 5:28 pm

Was taught to only attack the last quarter of the hill, as this is where you can get the most gain if racing, and keep the attack going over the top, for around 100mtrs, as most will back off, at the top! :)
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Re: Starting to tackle hills.....

Postby Aussiebullet » Tue Feb 09, 2010 7:02 pm

foo on patrol wrote:Was taught to only attack the last quarter of the hill, as this is where you can get the most gain if racing, and keep the attack going over the top, for around 100mtrs, as most will back off, at the top! :)


Not bad advice at all!
I am guilty of ripping it towards the end of a climb and trying to get a gap or split the group in nearly every race l do. If l l know l have passengers l usually ease a little at the top and hope someone goes over me so l can tag on to the end of the train but the last time l did this in an A race all l heard from behind when l backed off was.........
DON'T STOP NOW... GO GO GO; He he I felt like saying your legs painted on or something? But he was right 2 more guys bridged the gap on the decent and on of them pipped me on the line for a podium spot in a 7 man sprint finish, oh well this year l'll hopefully learn :lol:

But in reguards to the OP, climbing is an art and the greater % of your training time you spend at at it the better you'll get,
when l focus on TTing on the flats for weeks on end the first couple of sessions back in the mountains don't produce the best power results as fun as the training and suffering is but within a few weeks of solid climbing training l am really hitting my straps, even if my power to weight is the same there are a few things that take a little while to get back into to rythem of, as my pedalling tech when climbing is nothing like it is when TTing, and then there is the heat issue of climbing you usually don't have the nice breeze at 95% of threshold when climbing like you would at 95% of threshold when doing 35+km/h on the flats so it's like addapting to a warmer climate and takes me a little while to get used too.
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Re: Starting to tackle hills.....

Postby peter.k » Sat Feb 13, 2010 12:09 pm

:D 8) :D 8) Done! :D 8) :D 8)

Just got back from a ride from Melton to Gisborne and back. 53km all up, kicked the hill's butt and had a great time doing it. The return trip was all reward for the effort, flat/downhill all the way 8)

Thanks to everyone for the advice, would'nt have done it without it.

Pete
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Re: Starting to tackle hills.....

Postby VZMY06SS » Mon Feb 15, 2010 5:49 pm

Although I don't personally find the need to do this, a good technique on long hills is to look at the road just in front of your wheel. Seeing that you have a huge climb left to do can be a bit depressing when your nearly spent. If I'm feeling like giving up I just kick back a few gears and cruise until I feel I can start to push again.

Steve

Congrats on making it by the way. I know the road, and it would be a good workout! Good job!
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Re: Starting to tackle hills.....

Postby casual_cyclist » Mon Feb 15, 2010 6:08 pm

peter.k wrote:Just got back from a ride from Melton to Gisborne and back. 53km all up, kicked the hill's butt and had a great time doing it.

Awesome! 8)
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