Does riding into the wind translate to improved hill climbing?



Myosmith

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Apr 27, 2011
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I live in one of the flatest areas in the USA. I literally have to go 30+ miles to find any respectable grades more than a half mile long. While we don't have a lot of hills, we do have an abundance of wind. I've wondered if riding into the wind translates at all to increased power for hill climbing. I'm interested in doing some charity rides in areas with more varied terrain and I don't want to get totally blown into the weeds by riders used to the longer grades.
 

alienator

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Jun 10, 2004
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Originally Posted by Myosmith .

I live in one of the flatest areas in the USA. I literally have to go 30+ miles to find any respectable grades more than a half mile long. While we don't have a lot of hills, we do have an abundance of wind. I've wondered if riding into the wind translates at all to increased power for hill climbing. I'm interested in doing some charity rides in areas with more varied terrain and I don't want to get totally blown into the weeds by riders used to the longer grades.
It can. The downside to using the wind to train for climbing is that wind isn't exactly predictable in its duration or direction, at least on a local level. A given climb is pretty much non-varying (if the integration time is the life of a cyclist) in distance and grade. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/wink.gif
 

daveryanwyoming

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Oct 3, 2006
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Yes, sustained harder riding whether it's into the wind, on a trainer or otherwise will help you build fitness and power and that's a huge part of hill climbing on the bike.

In addition to Alienator's comments on predicting wind for your normal training routes there are some specific skills that typically require actual hills to develop. For instance gear selection, knowing when to stand, what gears to stand in for resting or dealing with terrain variations, shifting during transitions from flats or descents to shorter rolling hills without giving up too much momentum or stalling out, mental aspects of long or steep climbs, dealing with very low bike momentum and riding straight lines while going slow and working hard...

Power and especially power to weight ratio are key to climbing hills and that can be developed wherever you live and train. But it does pay to get out on some hilly rides when opportunities present themselves and to ride with some hill savvy friends to pick up on some of the subtle techniques that make hill climbing easier.

But mostly keep riding and training in the terrain you have and keep building fitness, without that the hill specific work won't help much.

-Dave
 

maydog

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Feb 5, 2010
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What charity rides are you planning on? I wouldn't worry about getting blown away in a charity ride. There is a wide range of skill levels represented, the more experienced riders are not out to race and many charity rides avoid the nasty climbs. When there are climbs, there are usually so many riders plodding, swerving, walking their way up it become more of a game of dodge-em than an race to the top.

Riding in wind or on the flats wont get you out of the saddle much. For me, controlling your bike going up a grade at low speeds is more difficult and mentally more challenging that crushing flats at a high speed even though the power required is similar. I think it would be hard to develop a good "climbing sense" or "climbing strategy" without climbs.

Once in a while, I will challenge the wind head on and shift in to a high gear and pedal out of the saddle standing tall as long as I can. I focus on being powerful and keeping the bike straight. It gets a good burn going in the legs. Is it good for climbing, don't know - but it probably doesn't hurt.

You could do something like this as well, though it is perhaps more race oriented than just developing good steady climbing fitness:
http://www.bicycling.com/training-nutrition/chris-carmichael/no-climb-climbing-bike-workout
 

An old Guy

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Feb 12, 2011
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I ride just under 30 miles to get to hills that take 9 minutes to climb. So you are not to far from your hills.

The only hills you need to worry about are those where you do not have a low enough gear for your power output. If you can handle the ride out to your hills, climb the hills in something other than your lowest gear, and ride back, most likely you can handle the hills on a charity ride. If the hills are tough fro you, buy a cassette with lower gears.

But back to your question. Riding into the wind is a lot like riding hills, if you stop working you slow down quickly. Riding into the wind will give you that same low speed long duration efforts you might need for a charity ride. What it will not give you is experience in matching your effort to the time it takes to do a climb. But it is a charity ride, there is no intent to make you ride uphill for an hour.

So go out and get used to how hard you can ride for an hour into the wind.