Cadence (high vs Low)

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by king-compass, Oct 29, 2003.

  1. king-compass

    king-compass New Member

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    Hi All,

    I'll try and make this as concise as possible. I have been reading / listening to a lot of opinions on gear / cadence selection, the high vs low, etc, etc, and would like to get an opinion on the subject from a slightly different perspective.

    Recently, my lbs owner suggested that in order to train hills, I should choose as high a gear as I can, and power my way to the top, even if it meant that my average speed suffers as a result. The logic being that unless you put your legs under any amount of strain, you're never going to build strength, and strength is as important as anything to get you up the side of a mountain.

    I have tried this, to the extent that over the last week, every time I've been out on the road, and hit a hill, whatever the gradient, I've used a heavy gear and used pure leg strength to power to the top, instead of simply choosing a gear that would safely get me to the top.

    I must admit, the result (all be it only a week later) has surprised me. I am now climbing hills on my big ring that I used to climb on my middle ring, and I'm using the middle ring where I used to use the granny ring (I have a triple chainring), without changing the cog on the back. I now find that I don't even need to climb using the granny ring. I can actually get to the top, at the same average speed on steeper climbs, and even faster on the milder gradients.

    The question is, what now ? Do I persue a high gear / low cadence style, because I'm pretty sure that with more training, I'll be powering up hills at a rate that'll eclipse my previous efforts, or should I concenrate more on easy / faster pedalling, or is it really a matter of what I feel comfortable with. Should I adopt the one style for training, and switch for racing ??

    If I look at the pros (and I'm talking the cream of the crop here), LA vs JU TT styles are the perfect example. LA spins, while JU grinds, and their times are so close, I would hate to have to bet on a winner.

    Any advise is welcome, I have battled for a long time with my climbing, and I have finally realised that I have to focus on this aspect of my cycling before I really start enjoying myself on the road again.
     
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  2. treebound

    treebound New Member

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    If you blow out your knees you won't be climbing any hills.
    See the thread on training books and get one and start reading it, the joints you save may be your own.
    I'm going to guess that your LBS owner is neither a racer nor trainer as his/her advice is myopic, limited, and dangerous without the rest of the lesson and training plan. IMHO.
     
  3. jrlee

    jrlee New Member

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    sounds to me that you are doing Strength Endurance sessions, This is to grain spacific cycling strength. you still need endrance work and speed work on top of this. And when its race time its all different again, climb in the most comfortable, but fast, style you have.
    I wouldnt say that JU grinds either, but they both would do big gear hill work somewhere in their training programme, at very slow cadence 40-50 rpm
    john
     
  4. MuzzaB

    MuzzaB New Member

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    Depends where you are in your training too. I've had some time away from the bike, so right now I'm concentrating on high cadence and easy gears. Up the hills, I'm staying in the saddle.

    Last year I suffered a knee injury by tackling the hills too hard too soon in my build up. I'm trying to avoid that this year, and will work up slowly to the harder gears on the climbs.
     
  5. Geonz

    Geonz New Member

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    Agree about the knees. There are lots of ways to build strength that don't risk making it so you can't ride your bike. And it depends on how long the hill is, too :)
     
  6. flyefisher

    flyefisher New Member

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    Losing weight was the biggest thing to help my climbing. That and also power workouts you mention. Just be careful not to go too overboard with that or else you'll damage joints and connective tissue.

    What's next? Get faster at it I suppose. Measure some baseline times up certain climbs and try to get better.
     
  7. king-compass

    king-compass New Member

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    OK, I understand about the risk to your knees. I have stopped these sessions already based on this and other information I have received.

    Geonz, about these other ways to build strength without risk, what are they ?

    btw, the bloke that gave me the advise wasn't the shop owner, just an assistant - not sure of his pedigree though !

    I have received feedback from other quarters regarding the exact nature and place for these "Power" workouts, and, yes, even Lance does these, but at a cadence of at least 60 or 70, which is very different from the original indication on 40-50 mentioned earlier, and by the guy in the shop.

    The frequency with which these sessions are attempted should never be less that once a week, once a fortnight preferably.

    Finally, these sessions should only attempted after about 3-4 months of solid base training, a month of hill endurance training, another month of speed / Interval / hill xtraining, another month of specific interval / gym work. Only after a good 6-7 months of commiting, intense training are these strength sessions to be attempted.:eek:

    This fits in with what Treebound and MuzzaB said about strength training that's out of place being bad for you !
     
  8. cwrb

    cwrb New Member

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    I am new at this forum stuff but i have had a lot of expereince with long rides and learning to do better on hills.
    I have done Markham to Ottawa in 15 hours and Markham to Perth in 12 hours ... in the last 4 years.
    All of this without good hill climbing speed.
    In the last 2 years, i have focused more on hills in a lower gear (40-50 RPMs) and non-hills at 80-85 RPMs.
    This seems to work very well for me and i have improved my hill climbing speed without suffering on the flat. In fact, it seems to help my overall endurance.
    I am looking into something like Cycleops Fluid2 for winter training. Anyone have any good ideas or something second hand to sell?


     
  9. garykid

    garykid New Member

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    The key to all the above is planning. You want strength on the hills, and you've had all the injury risks drummed into you. I generally train base miles for 4 wks, then strength, big gears on hills and long big gear pulls on flats, standing starts in big ring etc. But hill climbing is not all about strength. I work on speed and hills following my strengh month, buy incorporating big ring short hill sprints and long pull higher cadence work in my fart-lek sessions. do yourself a favour and read what the coaches write!!! Adapt your training to suit you and remeber you have only been riding 4 months.....there are no quick fixes to cylcling fitness, its all about planning and learning over time.
     
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