How to maintain speed going uphill?

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by sharona1973, Jul 8, 2006.

  1. sharona1973

    sharona1973 New Member

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    I'm new to cycling. Started cycling twice a week in mid-April and I love it. I've gotten better, but still find hills very challenging. I try to ride with the cycling club that I belong to, but often get dropped, so I usually end up doing hills on my own.

    I have an entry level roadbike with 650 wheels (not sure that this makes any difference) with clipless pedals.

    I usually ride an average of 16-17 mph and try to maintain between 85-95 rpms when I'm riding. I have 3 gears in the front and recently began riding with the biggest gear most of the time.

    My trouble is that I have good speed entering a hill and I've been told to attack the hill. So usually I might be at 17-18 or more mph entering the hill with the cadence around 80-90 rpm.....I've been told to keep riding as hard as I can until my rpm drops to about 80 and then downshift and do this until I get over the hill. But not to downshift until you run out of gears.

    Usually what happens is that I start losing speed and of course my cadence slows down. I tried this today...maintaining my cadence at around 85-90 rpm up the hill.....but I still found myself slowing way down from 18mph to almost 10-12 mph........is this a combination of just needing to increase leg strength and losing weight? I'm by no means skinny and I do need to lose a few more pounds, but I see large guys whiz by me......

    Any ideas? As for standing up.....tried that today...almost fell over! I can't seem to stand up on my bike! At least not on a road bike...I can do it on a mountain bike.....
     
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  2. 2 old 2 go slow

    2 old 2 go slow New Member

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    Two things you can do to get better at riding hills:
    1. Ride more hills
    2. Ride more hills
    3. Learn to climb out of the saddle
    OK that's three. The third one I tossed in specially for you.

    There is no set formula for climbing which will automatically work for everyone. A lot of what you've heard is good advice. Trying to hold cadence, for instance, is generally a good strategy; but if the climb is too steep you won't be able to no matter what. Adopt whatever advice works for you. And you'll find out what works for you by practicing.

    Becoming a better climber is really a matter of climbing more so that you and your body learns what works best - what cadence to use, how hard to start out, when to stand etc. It's about your own rhythm and response to the steeps. You have to find it.
     
  3. wiredued

    wiredued New Member

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    For what its worth here in record rainy New England I have been forced indoors on many workouts using a machine that picks workouts randomly after you choose minimum and max cadence resistance etc. I tried to make it road like but it was definitely more towards the anaerobic side than what I'm used to. If I did three of these 1 hour workouts in a row I would be breathing through my teeth on the last 15 minutes. I recently got a chance outdoors and noticed a big difference on the hills I can stay out of the saddle for 200 ft of elevation easily now. But I have lost about 1mph on the flats at threshold just from LSD neglect which is ok because I live in a hilly area and had trouble attacking hills.
     
  4. Albert 50

    Albert 50 New Member

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    With your mountain bike the Q factor [this is the width your pedals are apart]will be probably wider than the road bike. This effects the amount you need to sway the bike from side to side when riding out of the saddle. If you are used to the amount of this sway required for the MB you will try to emulate the same amount on the road bike, but you actually need less. The feeling of falling over is what happens as you have found.
    You need to attempt at slow cadence & bike speed, to stand without swaying the bike to much. Very quickly you will find the right rythem. BTW when you master the road bike & then go back to the MB you start all over again:D
     
  5. Mr. Jones

    Mr. Jones New Member

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    It might be something easier to do just cruising without pedaling, just to get used to the position, and then later get used to the way the bike moves under you. Standing up is something I also think of as "the road cyclist's suspension" where one can dampen bumps by getting up a little ways off the saddle and then moving with the bump.
    It's definitely worth learning though...
     
  6. Sillyoldtwit

    Sillyoldtwit Active Member

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    I'm afraid I have to disagree with most of the advice offered so far.
    Climbing (on longish hills) is all about power and bodyweight and a little technique. However, with the best technique in the world you won't fly up hills being a pudding on a bike and without sustainable power. The way to build up sustainable power is by doing 20 - 30 minute intervals at 90/95% of your FT (functional threshold). FT being the wattage you can maintain for 1 hour where the last 5/10 mins are hard but not impossible. Over in the "It's killing me but.." thread you will see how I've increased my FT since January, with the help of my coach Rapdaddyo and others, and hills which used to be intimidating I now fly up. (and that's without any real hill training per se) For shorter hills up to 5 min say another form of training comes into play as well as your 20 min intervals. You start this training after you've built up your FT which takes the longest to improve.
    And remember lose weight - every pound counts. I've lost 14 kilos (30 pounds)) since Jan which has also helped my climbing immensely.
    With hard work you'll get there. Oh, and one more thing, I would recommend that you don't stand up on the hills initially. Try sliding back on the saddle and driving from the hips. (some people prefer sitting on the front of the saddle; I prefer that on the flat because I can get into a more aerodynamic position by doing so). TYSON
     
  7. graf zeppelin

    graf zeppelin New Member

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    If you're new to cycling it may be a tad early to start thinking about intervals etc, though that advice is good for sure, as is the advice to ride more hills, ride more hills and when in doubt, ride more hills. :cool: Over a bit of time your hill riding ability will improve some and you'll be ready to start attacking them with intervals and the whole nine yards over the final months of this season. If you train in the off season, next April you'll be surprised what you'll do to a hill that caused you a spot of bother this year.

    Try finding a route that has rolling hills for a little while and work on cadence. Personally, I think you should aim to get cadence on average a tad higher, say 95-105 rpm when riding, generally speaking, entering a hill on that. Then you can actually have an actual cadence drop, to around 80 cadence, combined with some down shifting, and have a shot at keeping that for much of the hill. You'll fall into the 60's and/or run out of gears if your fitness level cant yet match the given hill in question. It'll take some time training just to eventually get riding at a higher cadence on average before you could really expect too much of an improvement on cadences and speeds on hills overall.

    Combine higher cadence riding with some intervals to build some strength on a good hill that causes you trouble at very high effort on other days. This is the other side of the equation. Ride out to it at an easy pace, and then just ride up and down it a handful of times at about as high an effort as you can manage. Rest a bit in between each attempt, then limp home. :p It'll cause some general suffering and questioning of the merit of the activity. Just takes some time, but you can see the benefits in small increments. You will eventually want to get a HRM and start making a science of this, as sillyoldwit suggests. Really the only way you can manage the high power efforts and know you're actually working hard enough or not to actually improve.

    Standing vs seated climbing is sort of situational. Seated climbing is all about maintaining a good cadence. Requires strength and the cardio built up from all those cadence rides, as well as a simultaneous knowledge of what your limit is for expenditure and guaging it to the size of the hill in question. Blow too much energy early and you'll spiral successively down into lower cadences and gears until you run out of each. Knowing what your limit is is important for setting the pace at the start of the hill, and you of course learn that through a lot of hill riding.

    Standing climbing takes a lot more strength, but can re-energize your climb and knock your speed up a notch and carry you through a challenging section. Try practicing out of the saddle pedalling on a slight grade in a gear a bit bigger than you normally ride in for that grade when seated if you are having trouble getting a feel for it on a road bike.

    Just keep riding hills, ultimately, is the short and good answer really. :D Have fun.
     
  8. Albert 50

    Albert 50 New Member

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    For a new rider your response, correct or otherwise, regarding FT & intervals is a bit over the top. I'm sure a power meter would not be high on the OPs shopping list.
     
  9. Sillyoldtwit

    Sillyoldtwit Active Member

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    Who said anything about a powermeter? I don't even posses one. I use bikes in the gym to do my interval training where the power is indicated at the bottom of the screen.;)

    And FYI, when I joined this forum in January I was a complete newcomer to power training with an FT of around 120Watts, however thank god RD didn't tell me that to think about FT and doing interval training was "over the top" as you say. With all due respect Albert, from what I've seen of your posts, a lot of them are complete piffle.
     
  10. Sillyoldtwit

    Sillyoldtwit Active Member

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    Sorry GZ, I have to disagree again. For 5 years until last xmas I rode my same Sunday course, with the first real climb being a 15% drag. No matter what I did I made very little improvement on this hill. I tried standing up, doing bursts etc. (and on other hills on the course)
    It wasn't until I increased my FTP that I started to master this hill in a relatively short time. Along with VO2 max and AWC workouts in the gym, I now do this hill with little or no stress whatsoever.
    Just my 2 cents worth.;) Tyson
     
  11. BlueJersey

    BlueJersey New Member

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    Ha.........good answer. :D The key is to climb within your limit. In power term, at or above your FT. In HR training term, at LTHR. The longer you can sustain the whole climb without going over your LTHR, you will be fine.

     
  12. sharona1973

    sharona1973 New Member

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    Sounds like the main theme here is practice, practice, practice.

    Perhaps I am putting too much pressure on myself as a new cyclist. I mean, I've only bee riding since mid-April and there is still so much to learn. I have yet to fully learn how to shift properly and the timing etc and I'm learning each week from different sweep riders if I happen to catch them on the weekly rides.

    I have not done interval training yet and do most of my riding out on the road. Perhaps I should do some riding at the gym? Or take those spin classes?

    As for the hills.....I am getting better at the hills that I do more frequently....being able to increase my speed going up those hills that I ride more often. The ones that I am thinking of now are on a course for a triathlon that I'm training for and I've only ridden that course 3 times. And those hills are quite steep and long.

    I think that I do need to increase my cadence to more of a 95-100 rpm.....now should I do that while maintaining a high speed? I mean, I see 95/100 rpms when my gears seem lower...so I need to be able to maintain that while in a harder gear...yes? That means I'll be riding faster too?

    Sorry, all these questions from a newbie!
     
  13. graf zeppelin

    graf zeppelin New Member

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    You'll note I was actually agreeing with you. ;) We are after all talking about someone new to cycling, so I was trying to stay rather general, which is all you can do fresh starting out. Increase general fitness at least a little imho before seeking VO2 max and threshold workouts. At some point yes, you have to go in this direction.
     
  14. graf zeppelin

    graf zeppelin New Member

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    Lots of advice and all of it is good, each in its own way. Find what works for you. My opinion by and large right now would be to stay riding out on the road. Save the gym or a trainer for the off season since we're only a few months away from that anyway, depending where you live. You can research a bit more about threshold training and maybe get a HRM and indoor trainer etc during that time (maybe sooner) and very importantly stay training over late fall and winter so you hit the ground running next April and the improvements would probably surprise you.

    My advice is to aim most rides at 95-100 rpms on an average, but that's speaking really generally, because I dont know anything about your fitness, the course you ride, the distance, how often. But at any rate, I'd lean towards riding a little higher cadence on average as the higher priority and let the actual riding speed averages and distance grow over time. Every once and a while yes, see if you can push the same cadence through a higher gear and resulting higher speed, and then eventually make that the norm, etc. This will build a base. Having just started cyclign (effectively anyway) you'll need hours in the saddle and miles under the belt to build an aerobic base and general fitness a bit -imho- before then taking it to the next level. Maybe you are there now, but it doesnt sound like it yet to me.

    If and when you find or feel you are not improving, its a function of hitting a plateau, meaning you need to push the training harder. At some point this becomes hard to feel only subjectively and you need the support of a HRM or some other additional training device to guide your workouts, periodize training, help you plan and monitor intervals etc. This is where sillyoldtwit is coming from.
     
  15. Albert 50

    Albert 50 New Member

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    Sorry SOT, I wasn’t trying to rile you up, it is my opinion that a relatively new rider needs to first get some good base fitness with plenty of ks, in say 6/12 months, under all sorts of conditions before settling into a hard core structured training regime. As you have pointed out you rode for at least 5 years prior to structuring your training & so from this good base you have now got an obviously good schedule in place. Please reread in context with regards my “over the top” remark, clearly I stated for a new rider as the OP is.

    Double sorry regarding my ignorance re power meters, I will do some research to inform myself before I “put foot in mouth” again with reference to them. (I’ve never seen one or been to a gym btw)

    Please find some of my piffle & inform me of it so I can learn by my mistakes:D

    BTW I’m a very unstructured rec rider, ad hock would be a good description, now that I’ve ridden 25k klms in 4 years maybe it is time for me to take some of RDs good advice
     
  16. Catch_Me

    Catch_Me New Member

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    My advice would be to be patient and do more practice on hills. As your strengh builds, it'll become easier. Also you could try getting up off the seat to accelerate more.
     
  17. vuce

    vuce New Member

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    a few more advices...

    one thing that definitely shows big improvement over short period of time are force intervals... low cadence (40-50), big gear, on not-so-steep climb.

    the other type of intervals boost your aerobic power, and are basically what other mentioned. Long intervals (20, 30 min), at heart rate well below your LT.
     
  18. dm69

    dm69 New Member

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    +1...the only secret is power and weight. You want more power and less weight.

    Once you are respectable in both of those area's it gets more complicated ie. position, cadence, pacing.
     
  19. mikesbytes

    mikesbytes New Member

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    +2 It's largely about power to weight ratio. The laws of physics apply.

    Theres lots of advice on how to improve power (strength). I commute to work and take the opportunity to push it on the uphills.
     
  20. GrooveSlave

    GrooveSlave New Member

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    I think it's worth noting that group rides and hills ARE interval training for a new rider. :eek:
     
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