bodyweight and hill-climbing



Carrera

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I'm not clear about body-weight and hills. Last time I watched the tour de France, a commentator remarked that both Miguel Indurain and Jan Ullrich are heavy for cyclists yet Miguel Indurain was a good climber. However, I'm not sure what was meant by heavy. What was Indurain's weight during competition?
Are the bigger guys always at a disadvantage on the hills or is there a case for being able to compensate for the extra kilos through power in the legs.
I climbed an extremely steep hill last Summer and failed the first time. It was in an area called Buxton. The second time I made it but it killed me. A cyclist in my shop pointed out I am pretty bulky for a cyclist and this would have been my problem. However, I also felt my gears were too high. My first gear just wasn't low enough so I had to strain 100% to reach the final distance.
I'm being advise to have a lower cog fitted so I can get below my present first gear.
 

stowerider

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Hi,

Yes more weight can often put you at a disadvantage when climbing compared to lighter cyclists. However, there are hills and there are hills. On shorter hills (and where I live its mostly shorter hills because there are no mountain ranges) burly sprinter types can often power their way to the top of the climb and beat out the skinny guys; or the skinny climber types get to the hilltop first but the hill is so short that don't have any significant time lead over the bigger guys and are soon caught.

I don't know how steep this hill was that you tried to climb or how bulky you are but typically you should be able to climb most hills (you might not be that fast but you can climb the hill). If you want to do better then focus on -

a) developing your power which you can do with hill repeats - any good book on training such as Burke's Serious Cycling can help you put together a program

b) improving your efficiency - ie eliminating the stuff that you do when climbing which wastes energy and doesn't help you climb

You might never climb Mt Ventoux in less than an hour but you can climb hills and you can always get better.

SR
 

2LAP

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Originally posted by Carrera
I'm not clear about body-weight and hills. Last time I watched the tour de France, a commentator remarked that both Miguel Indurain and Jan Ullrich are heavy for cyclists yet Miguel Indurain was a good climber. However, I'm not sure what was meant by heavy. What was Indurain's weight during competition?
Are the bigger guys always at a disadvantage on the hills or is there a case for being able to compensate for the extra kilos through power in the legs.
I climbed an extremely steep hill last Summer and failed the first time. It was in an area called Buxton. The second time I made it but it killed me. A cyclist in my shop pointed out I am pretty bulky for a cyclist and this would have been my problem. However, I also felt my gears were too high. My first gear just wasn't low enough so I had to strain 100% to reach the final distance.
I'm being advise to have a lower cog fitted so I can get below my present first gear.
Hay, I live in this area and as the hills are long for the UK many people struggle with them the at the first attempt. You need to do some more hill training/riding and lose weight if you're overweight.
 

Michuel

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Originally posted by ricstern
are you certain? i thought it was 72 kg, or was that a previous years data?

ric

You're probably right - my figure was from Dave Cowie's 2000 survey which showed a slight increase from his 1997 figure of 68k+. Slightly surprising it's risen by 2kg - more US, NL, German riders maybe?
 

ric_stern/RST

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Originally posted by Carrera
I'm not clear about body-weight and hills. Last time I watched the tour de France, a commentator remarked that both Miguel Indurain and Jan Ullrich are heavy for cyclists yet Miguel Indurain was a good climber. However, I'm not sure what was meant by heavy. What was Indurain's weight during competition?
Are the bigger guys always at a disadvantage on the hills or is there a case for being able to compensate for the extra kilos through power in the legs.
I climbed an extremely steep hill last Summer and failed the first time. It was in an area called Buxton. The second time I made it but it killed me. A cyclist in my shop pointed out I am pretty bulky for a cyclist and this would have been my problem. However, I also felt my gears were too high. My first gear just wasn't low enough so I had to strain 100% to reach the final distance.
I'm being advise to have a lower cog fitted so I can get below my present first gear.

aside from slight technical/skill issues, all that really matters is that you increase your power to mass ratio to climb at a faster rate under given conditions.

under the same conditions a heavier rider will need to produce more power than a lighter rider on a hill when travelling at the same rate.

you don't state how much you weigh, however, many TdF winners are heavier than the average weight of the pros in the race (e.g. Armstrong, Ullrich are heavier than 70 kg)

Nonetheless, there's some very steep hills (as well as long ones) in that area. If you increase your fitness (power) and avoid being overweight you'll go up the hills faster

Ric
 

Michuel

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Originally posted by ricstern
i don't think it matters one way or the other to be honest. as i mentioned on another thread the numerator is more important than the denominator -- i.e., power you can produce is of more importance.

ric

Yes and there can be big risks on the weight reduction side - Chris Boardman seems to blame his lack of recuperation in stage races in the last few years of his career originated in losing too much weight in winter/spring of 97/8 by diet, overtraining (70kg->67kg). He felt his metabolic rate slowed down and hormonal, testosterone balance in body altered. Last year by April I went from normal 57kg (~8%body fat) weight to 55kg (~6%) but found my times were quite slower so I decided to pick up weight.

And looking at Dave Cowie's data most climbers are heavier than riders who class themselves as climbers in UK - Pantani 56kg, Hamilton 70, Jimenez 70,Gotti 65,Virenque 65, Beltran 60, Zulle 72kg.
 

ccorrick

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Originally posted by ricstern
aside from slight technical/skill issues, all that really matters is that you increase your power to mass ratio to climb at a faster rate under given conditions.

Yes, Strength to weight ratio is the key. You could be huge, but maybe your stregth (power) is also huge. That's all there is to it.

Think about a mountain climber (Those little senewy lookin dudes that see a stone wall and want to climb it). They haul their body weight up over and over and over again. I bet there strength to weight ratio is unbelievable!!

Go do some pullups. Can you do 2 or 20? It's just the way you're made. Of course muscle types play a roll, those twitchy explosive sprinter dudes amaze me. Give me a big ole long mountain pass any day.

If you're a big boy get some big power :D.
 

ric_stern/RST

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Originally posted by ccorrick
Yes, Strength to weight ratio is the key. You could be huge, but maybe your stregth (power) is also huge. That's all there is to it.


just to clarify strength and power are completely different metrics and shouldn't be confused. Strength has no importance to endurance cycling performance, whereas power has.

elite racing cyclists are no stronger than age, gender and mass matched healthy individuals.

Think about a mountain climber (Those little senewy lookin dudes that see a stone wall and want to climb it). They haul their body weight up over and over and over again. I bet there strength to weight ratio is unbelievable!!

often the best climbers are not necessarily the archetypal small, slim built riders, but the averagely sized bigger rider (e.g. Armstrong, Ullrich, etc)

Go do some pullups. Can you do 2 or 20? It's just the way you're made. Of course muscle types play a roll, those twitchy explosive sprinter dudes amaze me. Give me a big ole long mountain pass any day.

i'm not sure what pull ups have to do with this, but they certainly don't have anything to do with endurance cycling performance!

Ric
 

ccorrick

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Originally posted by ricstern
just to clarify strength and power are completely different metrics and shouldn't be confused. Strength has no importance to endurance cycling performance, whereas power has.

elite racing cyclists are no stronger than age, gender and mass matched healthy individuals.


Really? oops. I thought if you could push harder for your weight, meaning your strength was more, then you produced more power.

often the best climbers are not necessarily the archetypal small, slim built riders, but the averagely sized bigger rider (e.g. Armstrong, Ullrich, etc)

Not necessarily, but as a rule the bigger stockier types do not excel in the climbs? But as mentioned, no matter the size the power vs weight is still true? It was a generalization. Maybe the average size is the best power ratio? I don't know.

i'm not sure what pull ups have to do with this, but they certainly don't have anything to do with endurance cycling performance!

Probably nothing. Just how I think of a rider. How many pullups can that dude do? As a general rule I can tell who will be strong on hills and won't. VERY GENERAL, but the lean narrow build is generally true. Of course at a pro level they are all in that lean look catagory.

Sorry my reasoning was way off. I will bow out now understanding I have no expertise in this, and just make myself look silly. However, it's interesting and I'll have to look up some stuff so I don't look the fool. (or at least as big a fool ;) )
 

ric_stern/RST

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Originally posted by ccorrick
Really? oops. I thought if you could push harder for your weight, meaning your strength was more, then you produced more power.


strength and power each have seperate specific meanings.

strength is the maximal force or tension generated by a muscle or group of muscles

power is the amount of work done/time and also torque (angular force) * (angular) velocity. (amongst many other definitions)

To produce more power you can increase your cadence and/or force on the pedals. however, in most cases (very old frail ladies, people with a functional disability, people with cardiac problems, etc are excluded) we all can produce enough force on the pedals to instantaneously and longer produce the same power required to win a big mountain pass climb in the TdF (i.e. elite riders climb for up to an hour at ~ 6 W/kg, I/others can generate that amount of power but can only hold it for a substatially shorter period of time, e.g. seconds to minutes). Thus most people are not force limited (which is why weight training is pointless for endurance cycling performance)




Not necessarily, but as a rule the bigger stockier types do not excel in the climbs? But as mentioned, no matter the size the power vs weight is still true? It was a generalization. Maybe the average size is the best power ratio? I don't know.

Armstrong, Ullrich, others they're all quite 'big' (i.e. > 70 kg) but climb better than people who weigh less

Probably nothing. Just how I think of a rider. How many pullups can that dude do? As a general rule I can tell who will be strong on hills and won't. VERY GENERAL, but the lean narrow build is generally true. Of course at a pro level they are all in that lean look catagory.

you can't make any assumption of climbing ability (or indeed cycling ability) from arm strength. The last time i tried to do a pull up i couldn't manage one, but in races i climb in the leading or second group

Sorry my reasoning was way off. I will bow out now understanding I have no expertise in this, and just make myself look silly. However, it's interesting and I'll have to look up some stuff so I don't look the fool. (or at least as big a fool ;) )

no need to bow out whatsoever. i'm just explaining the issues

ric
 

Carrera

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I'm close to 200 pounds in weight but have an average level of body fat. My waist is about 37 - which should give you some idea.
Over the years I've done regular squatting, which is why I weigh more than I would normally do. However, climbing that hill was the hardest thing I had done for a long time. The first time it destroyed me, I confess. The second time I spent 20 minutes getting my mind in gear and thought it would be O.K. till I turned the corner and it went up another gradient. I made it but virtually collapsed over a hedge where the sheep must have wondered what was amiss.
My problem was I got into first gear but it felt like too much of a strength-struggle as the hill was very steep indeed. There's a guy aged about 55 in my local bike shop and he says he raced up that hill when he younger and can still climb it relatively easily today. However, he's far lighter than I am and obviously cycles more than I do. He suggested I should fit a triple cog on my bike.
I find myself wondering how I would have gone on had I climbed on a mountain bike. My gut feeling is I would have done far better due to the lower gears. My racer doesn't have anything like the lower ratio gears of my mountain bike so it was the all-out-effort of the climb that mede my climb such a hellish task.
I don't do too badly on hill-climbs as a whole. Medium range hills aren't a problem but the very steep, long ones are a real challenge.
I used to live in northern Spain and can tell you there are some monster hills around Pamplona. Miguel Indurain is a native of Pamplona so it's little wonder he was such a good climber. The scenery is also breathtaking and I'll bet Indurain must have trained in those hilly areas in his day.
But would I be correct in saying that a mountain bike performs better than a racer in the hills?




Originally posted by ricstern
aside from slight technical/skill issues, all that really matters is that you increase your power to mass ratio to climb at a faster rate under given conditions.

under the same conditions a heavier rider will need to produce more power than a lighter rider on a hill when travelling at the same rate.

you don't state how much you weigh, however, many TdF winners are heavier than the average weight of the pros in the race (e.g. Armstrong, Ullrich are heavier than 70 kg)

Nonetheless, there's some very steep hills (as well as long ones) in that area. If you increase your fitness (power) and avoid being overweight you'll go up the hills faster

Ric
 

Carrera

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I seem to be having problems posting so will try again. My last message wouldn't go through. I'll try again.
I'm about 200 pounds with a 36 - 37 waist. If I cycle a lot my weight reduces rapidly.
The hill I refer to is called Lower Hulme Bank, situated past an army base on the route to Buxton. The first stretch takes you up into the hills and is very steep but not unbearable. However, the bend at the top takes you up a final very steep stretch that's plain murder. I have strong legs but the problem was I was working flat out for a lengthy period so I simply became hugely out of breath. I'm curious as to how the experience would have been had I had a lower gear to resort to. Maybe that way I could have gained some kind of a rhythm.
I'm curious also whether a good mountain bike would have made it far easier due to the far wider range of lower gears.
I'll try and post this again and hope it works.




Originally posted by 2LAP
Hay, I live in this area and as the hills are long for the UK many people struggle with them the at the first attempt. You need to do some more hill training/riding and lose weight if you're overweight.
 

limerickman

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Originally posted by Carrera
I'm not clear about body-weight and hills. Last time I watched the tour de France, a commentator remarked that both Miguel Indurain and Jan Ullrich are heavy for cyclists yet Miguel Indurain was a good climber. However, I'm not sure what was meant by heavy. What was Indurain's weight during competition?
Are the bigger guys always at a disadvantage on the hills or is there a case for being able to compensate for the extra kilos through power in the legs.
I climbed an extremely steep hill last Summer and failed the first time. It was in an area called Buxton. The second time I made it but it killed me. A cyclist in my shop pointed out I am pretty bulky for a cyclist and this would have been my problem. However, I also felt my gears were too high. My first gear just wasn't low enough so I had to strain 100% to reach the final distance.
I'm being advise to have a lower cog fitted so I can get below my present first gear.

Ullrich and Indurain both have large body mass.
The ability to climb is dependent upon several factors including,
the ability to suffer, power outputs and muscle type.
Both Indurain and Ullrich are power riders in that they can release
a constant flow of energy to get them over the climbs.
They lack what I would call the ability to 'jump' - that is to accelerate very quickly away because their body mass doesn't allow them the ability to 'jump' as quickly as say a smaller rider like Pantani.
Having said that Indurain and Ullrich are both great climbers and
even though Pantani could acclerate away from them at will,
Ullrich and Indurains ability to release more energy over a longer
time period allow them to stay within relative reach of Pantani on a climb.

Climbing is an art and it takes a lot of training and practice to perfect it (and even then you're not guaranteed success).
What you need to do is to try to climb as part of your training.
Initially, start doing some relatively easy climbs and allow your body to adjust to working on a climb.
You will begin to acclimatise to doing hills and you'll also begin to get more confident.
When you are climbing try to use the highest gear that you can without straining yourself.
In this way, you'll have the safety net of knowing that there are lower gears which you can use as the strain of climbing kicks in.
Try to remain seated during a climb.
If the pressure comes on, then get out of the saddle but try to minimise the amount of time that you're cycling while out of the saddle.
If this doesn't work, then gear down to a lower gear and continue to try to climb at the same tempo.
It's tough learning how to do it but with perserverance, you'll
see that your performance will improve.
 

Michuel

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Originally posted by Carrera
I'm close to 200 pounds in weight but have an average level of body fat. My waist is about 37

If hills are so important to you to want to train intensively and lose weight then I'd guess you could lose 8kg/17lb if you're carrying 20% fat (please correct me if I'm wrong). I know a very competitive guy who was 85kg in 2002 and trained very hard at long distances with good results (8h? in Flanders) who rode Ventoux in 1h53m - fair time but finishing behind others. He wasn't happy with that, did a lot of interval training as well as 100-130km rides, lost around 10kg and in 2003 rode Alpe d'Huez in 59m which is equivalent to a 1h30m on Ventoux.

On the other hand Brian Robinson (~62kg/140lb former National Hill Clinmb champion, winner Dauphine, rated excellent climber) last week at Riverside described climbing Ventoux in 1955 Tour when he caught a struggling Ferdi Kubler ("pauvre Ferdi, pousssez-moi, poussez-moi") , he passed him then was caught and passed by the master stylist on descent and at that moment decided to focus on descending. From then on 1km before to top of a summit he relaxed and began preparing for the descent and became accustomed to catching other riders who had exhausted themselves.

Every competitive cyclist takes hills as a challenge but maybe it's more rational to review one's strengths and the end objective.

Originally posted by Carrera
My problem was I got into first gear but it felt like too much of a strength-struggle as the hill was very steep indeed. There's a guy aged about 55 in my local bike shop and he says he raced up that hill when he younger and can still climb it relatively easily today. However, he's far lighter than I am and obviously cycles more than I do. He suggested I should fit a triple cog on my bike.
I find myself wondering how I would have gone on had I climbed on a mountain bike. My gut feeling is I would have done far better due to the lower gears. My racer doesn't have anything like the lower ratio gears of my mountain bike so it was the all-out-effort of the climb that mede my climb such a hellish task.
I don't do too badly on hill-climbs as a whole. Medium range hills aren't a problem but the very steep, long ones are a real challenge.

Sometimes I have a 39 / 32 as bottom which is quite low but with a triple you could get 30 / 32. An elite would have 39 / 23 or 25 as bottom for mountains tho a very few elite standard would drop to 39 / 27.

From what you say you don't do much riding so maybe you should master lower gradient hills first then work up to steep gradients - I think Snake is 10% climb 20-30m long near Buxton and Winnats is 10m steep climb also near Buxton.

Originally posted by Carrera
But would I be correct in saying that a mountain bike performs better than a racer in the hills?

I seem to remember a 90kg rider who had SRMs estimating that a mountain bike was around 5% more inefficient than racing bike on flat roads, maybe that includes positional changes. On a hill a mountain bike is at definite disadvantage - weight, tyre resistance. MTBers almost always will finish a long way behind others on hills.
 

Hitchy

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Jan 26, 2004
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Hi All,

lets simplify the arguement......Remember the film 'White men can't jump'?........well.... 'fatmen can't climb'.......

cheers,

Hitchy