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Riding in big chainring up hills?

Posted: Wed Aug 16, 2017 7:07 pm
by Big Pete 1
Yesterday we went on a 100 km training ride. I noticed a masters cyclist with vast experience riding all the hills in a 50 x 25. The 25 is his largest sprocket.
This cyclist is a retired cycling mechanic of about thirty years, and raced for about 45 years. So he knows that he is doing and what gear he is in. However, he is my nemesis, so I didn't ask for his reasons.
But I am not sure what his reasons are. If he wanted to do strength training, he could have picked the same ration with the smaller chainring and keep the chain tracking somewhere in the middle of the cassette.
So what do you think is behind this thinking?

Re: Riding in big chainring up hills?

Posted: Wed Aug 16, 2017 7:15 pm
by 10speedsemiracer
A - pain fetish ?
B - Forgot to charge Di2 battery and now fully discharged ?
C - Alzheimer's ?
D - All of the above...

Re: Riding in big chainring up hills?

Posted: Wed Aug 16, 2017 7:22 pm
by Derny Driver
Just because someone has been riding bikes all their life doesn't mean they know what they are doing. Some people make the same mistakes all their life. I am bringing to mind right now about 20 blokes I know who never listened to advice and made the same mistakes racing and training their whole life. These are the blokes who have never won a race, who always have an excuse (I just wanted a hard ride, I wasnt trying to win), who just stubbornly or stupidly keep doing dumb things.
50-25 up a hill. Thats dumb $hit. Dont bother trying to tell him, he wont listen to you.

Re: Riding in big chainring up hills?

Posted: Thu Aug 17, 2017 9:00 am
by Neddysmith
I dont know an i am new to all the road cycling stuff, so willing to learn and listen if i am off here in my thinking.

Now i am only going on what i do, when you start a climb from a flat, obviously depending on the length of the climb, but you start on the 50 chainring and a smaller cog on rear, as you progress up the climb to keep the same cadence you change down gears, now for me this may take me some time to get the lagrer rear cogs, and i find that having to change the front ring down and then shift the rear to get the correct ratio can mean i lose a bit of momentum and rhythm, so depending how close i am to the crest i find staying on the 50 chain ring is just easier and i can maintain momentum and cadence a little better.

I hope this makes sense, but also if i am doing it wrong or should try something else im all ears..

Re: Riding in big chainring up hills?

Posted: Thu Aug 17, 2017 9:16 am
by Derny Driver
Neddy the answer to your question is "it all depends". Depends on how steep the hill is and how long it is. Why not start another post about it ...may be a bit early to hijack this one as BigPete has only had 2 replies to his question.

Re: Riding in big chainring up hills?

Posted: Thu Aug 17, 2017 11:11 am
by g-boaf
There are some reasons you might ride at low cadence, but not for a whole entire 100km ride and every hill on that ride, that's not right and you'll be risking injury. Do your 3x20min or 2x30min and then that's it, ride the rest at normal cadence.

I won't tell you to do what I'm doing, because it might not work for you and you'll probably hate it. What I would say is go and read Joe Friel's cycling training bible - that has pretty solid advice. He talks a bit about this stuff here:

http://www.trainingbible.com/joesblog/l ... rance.html

Read as much as you can, ask lots of questions, try to understand it and try to apply the ideas over time, giving it enough time to see how it is working.

Neddysmith wrote:I dont know an i am new to all the road cycling stuff, so willing to learn and listen if i am off here in my thinking.

Now i am only going on what i do, when you start a climb from a flat, obviously depending on the length of the climb, but you start on the 50 chainring and a smaller cog on rear, as you progress up the climb to keep the same cadence you change down gears, now for me this may take me some time to get the lagrer rear cogs, and i find that having to change the front ring down and then shift the rear to get the correct ratio can mean i lose a bit of momentum and rhythm, so depending how close i am to the crest i find staying on the 50 chain ring is just easier and i can maintain momentum and cadence a little better.

I hope this makes sense, but also if i am doing it wrong or should try something else im all ears..


For short hills, I would tend to just hammer over them. Longer ones I think it is more efficient to take a steady pace and go up them at what seems like a comfortable effort. You'd be surprised at how quick that can be. It's like the Alain Prost style of F1 racing in the turbo era, go slower at the start, conserve fuel and tyres, then near the end when everyone else is spent you go fast and pick them all off.

Re: Riding in big chainring up hills?

Posted: Thu Aug 17, 2017 1:20 pm
by RonK
The question implies that it is wrong to ride uphill in the big ring. But modern narrow chains are quite flexible and can cope with a big-big combination.

My observation over years of riding is that most dropped chains result from hasty, poorly-executed front derailleur shifts, usually because the rider has misjudged the steepness of the hill, so it make sense to minimise them, or execute them early, before the grade becomes too steep.

Size up a hill as you approach, if you can power over on the big ring then do it (but this is where many underestimate the grade and come unstuck).

If not and a front shift is inevitable, avoid a dropped chain by holding the approach gear as long as you can then shift the front before the heavy load comes on. Get it right and you won't have to upshift the cassette, and you won't drop your chain. Then downshift the rear as the grade steepens further.

Re: Riding in big chainring up hills?

Posted: Thu Aug 17, 2017 4:31 pm
by silentC
Yeah I ride with guys who dislike dropping down to the small ring and happily cross chain all day. SRAM says it's OK, Shimano says don't do it. I learned not to but it was probably more of a problem back then. If I think I'm going to have to drop down to the small ring, I often flick both levers at once, so I drop onto the small ring and go up a gear at the same time on the back. Once I'm on the climb I generally don't change rings, so it means anticipating it a bit. Other guys don't seem to mind the noise it makes when you change down with the power on. I don't like it.

Re: Riding in big chainring up hills?

Posted: Thu Aug 17, 2017 6:01 pm
by g-boaf
I must be lucky, I've never had a chain drop when changing from big/small chain ring. This is a Dura Ace 9000 groupset with a KMC X11SL chain.

Maybe it is how I maintain my bike too, I treat it with a lot of care.

SilentC: your mates must be very strong riders if they never have to use the small chain ring. When I hit more than 25% gradient after already dealing with 10%+ there is no way I can stay on the big chain ring.

Re: Riding in big chainring up hills?

Posted: Thu Aug 17, 2017 6:21 pm
by Derny Driver
g-boaf wrote:
SilentC: your mates must be very strong riders if they never have to use the small chain ring....

Mate of mine rode the whole of Stage 1 (Gaps loop) of Tour of Bright in the small chainring - just to prove a point. He won the Tour as well - Elite A grade. That was a while ago, late 90s.
I used to train in the small ring, and race in the big one.
But then again, every ride is a race when you are on Strava, Zwift, or the coffee shop bunchie.

Re: Riding in big chainring up hills?

Posted: Thu Aug 17, 2017 6:55 pm
by Big Pete 1
Thanks Derny Driver.

Your response triggered a thought about the thread I have not considered. When I was fit, and the pace was high, I would be in the large chain ring, and stay there even while going over small hills. The pace did not warrant me to change down for the time it would take me to go over the hill. However, I hardly rode my bike with small ring to small sprocket, or large ring to large (which I was questioning about).

Personally I often ride in the small chainring, knowing that I can still do 40 kph on the 39 x 11 though it is at a fast cadence.
However I have a personal policy to shift from small to large chainring when the pace starts going above 31 kph. In this way the chain is tracking in the mid ranges of the cassette.

Re: Riding in big chainring up hills?

Posted: Thu Aug 17, 2017 7:01 pm
by Big Pete 1
Thanks everybody else for your input.

Re: Riding in big chainring up hills?

Posted: Thu Aug 17, 2017 7:39 pm
by cameronp
g-boaf wrote:There are some reasons you might ride at low cadence, but not for a whole entire 100km ride and every hill on that ride, that's not right and you'll be risking injury.


And yet somehow people manage to ride fixed gear bikes in quite hilly terrain! Even for extremely long rides like PBP or LEL. (I even remember reading about a guy over on fixed.org.au who did the Alpine Classic on a single speed.)

Back on topic: if the whole ride is at a pace that feels easy for him, a low cadence might well feel natural and changing to the other ring feel like an unnecessary faff. When I'm commuting at a casual pace I suspect my cadence is often around the 60-80rpm mark and I rarely change gear for the whole ride.

Re: Riding in big chainring up hills?

Posted: Thu Aug 17, 2017 8:51 pm
by g-boaf
cameronp wrote:
g-boaf wrote:There are some reasons you might ride at low cadence, but not for a whole entire 100km ride and every hill on that ride, that's not right and you'll be risking injury.


And yet somehow people manage to ride fixed gear bikes in quite hilly terrain! Even for extremely long rides like PBP or LEL. (I even remember reading about a guy over on fixed.org.au who did the Alpine Classic on a single speed.)

Back on topic: if the whole ride is at a pace that feels easy for him, a low cadence might well feel natural and changing to the other ring feel like an unnecessary faff. When I'm commuting at a casual pace I suspect my cadence is often around the 60-80rpm mark and I rarely change gear for the whole ride.


What has any of that got to do with the topic in question? You've also missed the point of why that person was riding with low cadence in the first place. It wasn't about feeling natural or changing gears being an unnecessary faff. What he was doing was old fashioned strength intervals, but taking it to the extreme which probably wasn't necessary.

You don't need to spend a whole 100km+ ride doing that. There are quicker and easier ways to get the results.

This would get the results, done a couple of times a week and mixed in with decent rides on the weekend:

Image
(click for full size)

Just over an hour, warm up at the start, warm down at the end. Ultimately, it's all down to what you want to do. If you don't want to do training in a particular way, then you'll hate it.

Personally, I've been done with listening to others saying do this, do that, no that's wrong, don't do that, that advice from such and such is all wrong, etc. I do what I feel like doing. If they don't like that, then I would just stop riding completely and do something else.

Re: Riding in big chainring up hills?

Posted: Thu Aug 17, 2017 9:22 pm
by Alex Simmons/RST
"Strength intervals" is an oxymoron.

Cycling is a discipline full of belief based training methods.

Re: Riding in big chainring up hills?

Posted: Fri Aug 18, 2017 9:19 am
by ball bearing
Big Pete 1 wrote:However, he is my nemesis, so I didn't ask for his reasons.
But I am not sure what his reasons are.

Nemesis? I find that kind of sad. Is this simply because he can out ride you?

I have never worried about how anyone else chooses to ride - just like I have no concerns if someone thinks I am not riding according to their particular idealised style.

Re: Riding in big chainring up hills?

Posted: Fri Aug 18, 2017 11:33 am
by silentC
g-boaf wrote:SilentC: your mates must be very strong riders if they never have to use the small chain ring. When I hit more than 25% gradient after already dealing with 10%+ there is no way I can stay on the big chain ring.

Only on the little rides. Big rides everyone has to go to the little ring often. I just watch them when we're going up a bit of a gradient and I will either be on the small ring or out of the saddle, they are on the big ring and in 1st or 2nd on the back.

Re: Riding in big chainring up hills?

Posted: Fri Aug 18, 2017 3:33 pm
by cameronp
g-boaf wrote:You've also missed the point of why that person was riding with low cadence in the first place. It wasn't about feeling natural or changing gears being an unnecessary faff. What he was doing was old fashioned strength intervals, but taking it to the extreme which probably wasn't necessary.


I don't think we know that for sure? All the original poster said was that the guy was riding up hills in a big gear at low cadence (and that he didn't ask why). Could be lots of explanations for why he might do that.

g-boaf wrote:Personally, I've been done with listening to others saying do this, do that, no that's wrong, don't do that, that advice from such and such is all wrong, etc. I do what I feel like doing. If they don't like that, then I would just stop riding completely and do something else.


Amen to that.

Re: Riding in big chainring up hills?

Posted: Fri Aug 18, 2017 4:44 pm
by Thoglette
cameronp wrote:Could be lots of explanations for why he might do that.

Maybe he's scared of his FR? Or it's broken or poorly adjusted. (That'd never happen to me :wink: )

Re: Riding in big chainring up hills?

Posted: Mon Sep 11, 2017 7:48 pm
by Chuck
Derny Driver wrote:But then again, every ride is a race when you are on Strava, Zwift, or the coffee shop bunchie.


Wow talk about judgemental.

Re: Riding in big chainring up hills?

Posted: Tue Sep 12, 2017 12:15 am
by Derny Driver
Chuck wrote:
Derny Driver wrote:But then again, every ride is a race when you are on Strava, Zwift, or the coffee shop bunchie.


Wow talk about judgemental.

looking for a $hit to give ...
cant find one :wink:

Re: Riding in big chainring up hills?

Posted: Tue Sep 12, 2017 1:11 pm
by Chuck
Derny Driver wrote:
Chuck wrote:
Derny Driver wrote:But then again, every ride is a race when you are on Strava, Zwift, or the coffee shop bunchie.


Wow talk about judgemental.

looking for a $hit to give ...
cant find one :wink:


Yeah sure :lol:

Re: Riding in big chainring up hills?

Posted: Tue Sep 12, 2017 2:07 pm
by g-boaf
I definitely found it better to use the small chainring and avoid low cadence on long hills (say 10-15km or more). Until you get faced with something like 18% or more for a couple of kilometres at the end of a long climb and then you just do what you have to do to get through that.

And don't stay seated the entire time either, get out of the saddle quite a bit. It helps. Everywhere I've ridden in Australia doesn't compare to what I did in Europe.