My first ride on serious hills...

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My first ride on serious hills...

Postby dhat » Mon Jan 14, 2008 8:28 pm

I went for my first ride on more serious hills yesterday morning. I took the route from Terry hills out to West Head and back at about 7am.

The first big hill I thought this is not good :( . My quads were tired already! But I kept spinning. A lone DF passed me from behind on one of the long hills early on. Finally I get to The Wall - made it up there in lowest gear going at about 8-9kmh.

On the way back I followed 2 DF riders by about 100m - not pushing too hard - all the way back to the park entry gate. So maybe I can keep up with some riders. The tires really sing on the flats!

The climb back up from McCarrs was hard work. I managed about 7-9kmh all the way. At the top I realised my seat moved back by a few cm.

Most of the trip my cadence was between 73 and 80 - way too low. I'm used to 85-90 on flats and 95-100 on hills on the MTB. Not sure why it is difficult to get higher cadence on the bent?

It total I did 36km at 21.5kmh.

Today my abs and torso are quite sore. Bent muscles? I'm going to do this route with the MTB next weekend to compare.
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by BNA » Mon Jan 14, 2008 8:58 pm

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Postby europa » Mon Jan 14, 2008 8:58 pm

Well done mate.

To ride at those speeds you need lower gears. However, seeing you survived the climb, I'm betting that as you get stronger, the cadence will come back up and you won't need the lower gearing. Stick with it while you're surviving and it'll get better.

Because you can wedge your back against the seat, I reckon you can put more power into the pedals than you can on a df bike while just sitting - standing on a df is a different animal again, but just sitting and spinning, I reckon the bent is better than the df. Hope so, because I'm a sit and spin merchant on the hills on my df :D

I've got the lass until thursday, then I'll be able to get out more. Jan is away for the next week and I have to around to her place each day and feed her cats. It's only a few km away, but the approach to her house is up a very, very steep hill - only a couple of blocks long but that's always been a stand and struggle job. Doing that every day for a week will soon sort me out on the bent (I'll probably just get a lot of practice pushing :roll:)

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Postby sogood » Mon Jan 14, 2008 11:05 pm

Climbing on a bent? You ARE mad! :D
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Postby Leigh_caines » Tue Jan 15, 2008 3:38 am

Dosen't sound to bad to me...
and the hills get easer in time

80 cadence is not bad to start...
I was more like 60 when I first got bent
now I can do 90 all day but took a year or more to get there

Keep on spining :)
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Postby sogood » Tue Jan 15, 2008 5:01 am

How well can one manage a 10-15% grade climb on a bent?
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Postby Recycler » Tue Jan 15, 2008 7:52 am

G'Day So Good, Sounds like you do not like recumbents! Have you ever ridden one? Yes, I ride a bent and a trike. I also ride wedgies Road and Track, and many types of bikes and love them all :!: Good Luck.
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Postby sogood » Tue Jan 15, 2008 8:39 am

Recycler, that's not a correct statement. I am curious and admire recumbents, but AFAIK, recumbent have a natural disadvantage when going uphill. The reason why I asked about 10-15% grade hill was a purely technical one. With regular upright bikes, you can stand, sit, crouch and do whatever to vary the position and recruited muscle groups to get yourself up that hill. How do recumbent riders handle these challenging situations?
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Postby dhat » Tue Jan 15, 2008 9:03 am

I don't really know what a 10-15% hill looks like although I am sure I've ridden one. What is the gradient of the last hill on the way to West Head the one that looks about 45% when you get to it?
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Postby sogood » Tue Jan 15, 2008 9:09 am

dhat wrote:I don't really know what a 10-15% hill looks like although I am sure I've ridden one. What is the gradient of the last hill on the way to West Head the one that looks about 45% when you get to it?

Have you ever ridden up Lilyfield Rd from the Bay Run shared usage path? That short kick of a hill is around 7-8% at worst.
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Postby Hotdog » Tue Jan 15, 2008 9:21 am

Well done Dirk, sounds like pretty good going when you're still new to the 'bent. I've not ridden The Wall myself but I am pretty familiar with some of the other hills around there, and McCarrs Creek Road is a decent climb.

Both Graeme and myself had our seats creep down the frame tube, the secret to stopping it is to make sure the Frankenstein bolts (the ones which connect the seat to the seat clamp) are done up really tight. If they aren't tight then the seat can move even with the clamp quick release done up tight.

I wouldn't worry too much about your cadence at this stage, maybe experiment a little next time you do some climbing by shifting gears to modify cadence while attempting to maintain speed but I'm sure you'll soon settle into a good climbing rhythm anyway. At times I've had almost the opposite problem, chasing high cadences down through the gears until I'm climbing at a snails pace.

Sogood, it's hard to answer your question in a general sense as some 'bents climb vastly better than others. Weights vary greatly, which obviously has an effect, but there are a lot of other factors such as hip opening angle (there's a tradeoff here, closed hip angle riding positions appear to be better biomechanically, enabling the rider to deliver more power to the pedals, however open hip angles allow for a more aerodynamic position). For steep grades the 'bent is going to need very low gears too, as you need to keep the cadence up for climbing on a 'bent.

From a purely personal perspective, my bike is in theory a reasonably decent climbing 'bent and now I'm used to it I can climb well on moderate grades of 5-10% or so (by my own standards, i.e. I can hold my own with reasonably fit friends on road bikes but none of us are athletes). Sustained grades of much more than 10% will cause me trouble, but I do feel that's more about me than about the bike (I've never been great on steep bits, and I don't encounter sustained climbs that steep often enough to get better). Someone who takes the time to regularly train on steep climbs would probably do OK on 10-15% grades, not quite as quick as a (lighter) road bike but most likely quick enough to stay in touch and use their aero advantage to catch up when the road gets less vertical.
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Postby sogood » Tue Jan 15, 2008 9:34 am

Thanks HotDog for the response. Very interesting. :D
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Postby Hotdog » Tue Jan 15, 2008 9:39 am

sogood wrote:Recycler, that's not a correct statement. I am curious and admire recumbents, but AFAIK, recumbent have a natural disadvantage when going uphill. The reason why I asked about 10-15% grade hill was a purely technical one. With regular upright bikes, you can stand, sit, crouch and do whatever to vary the position and recruited muscle groups to get yourself up that hill. How do recumbent riders handle these challenging situations?

There is one natural disadvantage for climbing that recumbents definitely do have, and that's weight. You can buy a feather light (down to less than 7kg) recumbent but it'll cost a fortune. Weights in the mid-teens are more typical, a 10kg 'bent is considered rather light and will be expensive whereas 10kg road bikes are (almost) ten a penny. Of course, when considered in the proper context of total bike + rider weight a few kilos isn't a big difference, but it will still tell on a steep climb.

The inability to vary positions to the same extent as on an upright bike is an issue, you can vary the dominant muscle groups to some extent by slightly shifting position in the seat, changing ankle angle, etc., and this may help but it's not going to provide a dramatic boost like standing up on an upright. How much difference this makes to times over a long sustained climb I'm not sure, but it definitely makes it hard to sprint uphill (to bridge a gap or whatever) on a 'bent.
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Postby Hotdog » Tue Jan 15, 2008 9:49 am

sogood wrote:
dhat wrote:I don't really know what a 10-15% hill looks like although I am sure I've ridden one. What is the gradient of the last hill on the way to West Head the one that looks about 45% when you get to it?

Have you ever ridden up Lilyfield Rd from the Bay Run shared usage path? That short kick of a hill is around 7-8% at worst.

Keith Griffin did a nice plot of some common northern Sydney climbs for Bike North, if you're familar with some of these climbs it can give you a feel for what various percentage gradients are like. As an example, the steeper sections of the west side of Galston Gorge are around 10%, and the top of Kissing Point Road has a maximum gradient of 17%.
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Postby sogood » Tue Jan 15, 2008 12:54 pm

What's the technique for the upper limb and trunk? Do you just push your hip to the back of the seat? Do you pull on the handlebar? I assume you'll never have momentary rear wheel slips when you give it a hard push.
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Postby Hotdog » Tue Jan 15, 2008 1:29 pm

sogood wrote:What's the technique for the upper limb and trunk? Do you just push your hip to the back of the seat? Do you pull on the handlebar?

Now that's an interesting question. Me, I've generally got a relaxed upper body and simply push against the back of the seat, doing all the work with my legs. I don't think pulling on the handlebars would do anything useful, however I have heard some people on 'bent forums mention their 'power position' for climbing where they somehow engaged core muscles. One even claimed riding a 'bent gave him toned abs... So, general consensus seems to be that pulling on the bars is a waste of time (though there is a natural tendency to do so, I occasionally do it myself when working really hard but I try to avoid it) but there may or may not be something useful you can do with your trunk. Maybe I should browse some forum archives in case I'm missing some useful techniques...

I assume you'll never have momentary rear wheel slips when you give it a hard push.

Nope, due to the C of G position there's a lot of weight over the rear wheel when riding up a slope, I never managed to make it slip. On the other hand lifting the front wheel is entirely possible, when pushing hard up the extremely steep (but mercifully short) driveway to my girlfriends place in a very low gear I can get the front end airborne if I'm not careful.
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Postby sogood » Tue Jan 15, 2008 2:14 pm

Hotdog wrote:Nope, due to the C of G position there's a lot of weight over the rear wheel when riding up a slope, I never managed to make it slip. On the other hand lifting the front wheel is entirely possible, when pushing hard up the extremely steep (but mercifully short) driveway to my girlfriends place in a very low gear I can get the front end airborne if I'm not careful.

Yes, I was thinking if it's possible to turn a bent into a unicycle. :wink:
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Postby Hotdog » Tue Jan 15, 2008 2:53 pm

sogood wrote:Yes, I was thinking if it's possible to turn a bent into a unicycle. :wink:

It's also possible to turn a unicycle into a 'bent :wink:

A couple of time I've had people 'wittily' shout out "do a wheelie!" when I've cycled by on the 'bent. Not easy...
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Postby dhat » Tue Jan 15, 2008 8:09 pm

sogood wrote:
dhat wrote:I don't really know what a 10-15% hill looks like although I am sure I've ridden one. What is the gradient of the last hill on the way to West Head the one that looks about 45% when you get to it?

Have you ever ridden up Lilyfield Rd from the Bay Run shared usage path? That short kick of a hill is around 7-8% at worst.


I commute that hill every second day. My first trip ever with the highracer I went up there no probs - maybe a little wobbly. Second trip I could easily stay on my side to aviod cars.

I've gone up short steeper hills than that without too much trouble, but it would have been trouble to sustain this for a long time.
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You must be mad.

Postby Recycler » Wed Jan 16, 2008 6:44 pm

SoGood, Thanks for your responce, now I see what you were on about. I think you should have a go on a bent, they are very interesting. To answer you question on hills I just keep pedalling , if I go to slow or i'm buggerd I get off and push. I wonder why non bent riders never mention how fast bents go down hill and on the flat, not to mention how good they are when going into a head wind. No I am not a bent nut :!: but credit due where its worth. Good Luck.
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Re: You must be mad.

Postby sogood » Wed Jan 16, 2008 7:37 pm

Recycler wrote:I wonder why non bent riders never mention how fast bents go down hill and on the flat, not to mention how good they are when going into a head wind...

Because us upright riders can't draft off a low riding bent. Zero value! :P
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Re: You must be mad.

Postby Hotdog » Wed Jan 16, 2008 10:51 pm

sogood wrote:Because us upright riders can't draft off a low riding bent. Zero value! :P

That's just because you either can't keep up (downhill) or have passed the 'bent (uphill) :wink:

Actually, I am told by upright bike riding friends that drafting off my (rather tall) bent does work. The rider sucking my wheel needs to be down in the drops to get a noticeable benefit though, and while it's a significant help over no draft at all it's still less than that from another upright.
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Postby Kalgrm » Wed Apr 09, 2008 9:37 pm

sogood wrote:Recycler, that's not a correct statement. I am curious and admire recumbents, but AFAIK, recumbent have a natural disadvantage when going uphill.
<snip>

Sorry to exhume this one from its crypt, but I was travelling across the country when it came up and I missed it.

I reckon one of the reasons this stereotype (that 'bents can't climb) is perpetuated is heavily influenced by the other main stereotype associated with 'bents: that they are ridden by old men with grey beards.

It really is true that most 'bent riders are older men (and actually do have grey beards in most cases, but that's for another thread to discuss). Because their riders often can't climb on any bike, the bikes themselves get the blame for the poor climbing performance, rather than the rider.

So when a fit rider on a DF bike passes a 'bent up a hill, the DF rider smiles knowingly because they've just passed a bike which can't climb, reinforcing the stereotype. On the other hand, had the rider been an old man on a DF bike, they would have only been passing an "old bloke on a bike", which is neither memorable nor worthy of boast.

(Of course, some DF riders will audibly swear in self-loathing when they are overtaken up a hill by a 'bent rider, but that's a just reward for the disdain I cop from some riders! :D)

This theory of mine doesn't mean that it is any easier to climb on a 'bent if you're fit and strong. Hotdog's answers above still stand, and a light DF bike with a fit rider will nearly always climb faster than a lightweight 'bent with a fit rider. I'm simply arguing that the stereotype of 'bents with poor climbing ability is strongly influenced by the type of rider who gravitates towards recumbents. It's a classic case of sample bias skewing the perception.

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Postby chuckchunder » Wed Apr 09, 2008 10:02 pm

yeah what hotdog and kalgrm said...... i spend a bit of time in the hills behind Perth, no idea of grades sorry.... i am faster now on those climbs than i ever was on my slick shod mountain bike. the difference is in my fitness, not the bike/trike.

you should see the face of a DF rider when a fat tyred touring tricycle with a grey bearded engine rides past them up a hill........

oh, and how's it gone dhat? has it got any easier?
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Postby nimm » Thu Apr 10, 2008 3:25 am

I should point out Graeme and John (another bent rider here) climb about the same rate that I do on my DF. I'm talking about on our normal rides and not in competition although we're still pushing a quick pace.
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