new to cycling: hill climbing question

Discussion in 'Road Cycling' started by leo1971, Feb 2, 2010.

  1. leo1971

    leo1971 New Member

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    Hi,

    I recently started commuting by bike. I ride 25 miles per day.
    I live in an area full of hills, and I'm having trouble in an 1.5 mile hill that starts with a 12% grade and goes to 16%.
    I'm struggling to climb this hill. I have to stop at least once. I am 38yo, 5ft8.5in, 170lb and 12%BF.
    I recently bought a descent road bike, but it did not help much climbing this hill.
    So, will it make a big difference if I lose 10lb (new weight 160)?

    Thanks
     
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  2. toomanybikes

    toomanybikes New Member

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    Yes.

    And keep practicing. Just keep riding it, one of these days - you wo't be getting off ........
     
  3. jhuskey

    jhuskey Moderator

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    I can't tell you without a doubt, yes and I will accept no argument from anyone since I have myself as proof. Losing weight is not the entire equation but losing weight through training is big part of it.
    Endurance, weight, technique,confidence all elements of being a good climber. Just keep at it and watch your food intake.
     
  4. 64Paramount

    64Paramount Active Member

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    Yes, lose some weight through controlling how much you eat and by riding more.

    If you want to beat that hill then ride up it, stopping if you need to, and when you get to the top turn around and ride back to the bottom. Then climb it again, stopping if you need to.

    Ride up it twice back to back at least once a week and pretty soon you'll own that hill.
     
  5. Randy Bosma

    Randy Bosma New Member

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    OK, that's a serious hill. IMHO, your weight is not a major issue. However, the condition of your engine :rolleyes: may be a factor. Another problem may be the gearing on your road bike - post what chainrings and cassette you have and someone with more experience than me may be able comment on the suitability of your bike for hills. (I ride a hybrid.)

    Other than that, the other posters advice about spending more time on the hill are spot-on; that'll make the engine better.
     
  6. alienator

    alienator Well-Known Member

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    Climbing is not something the majority of new riders like doing, and climbing 12-16% grades as a new rider......well, that most likely defines suckworthy. The two of the three things that improve climbing have already been mentioned: losing weight and climbing more. The third, IMHO, is one that's hardly mentioned: attitude. If you approach a climb dreading it already hating it, you're just putting yourself into the mood necessary for the climb to be as fun as jabbing barn spikes into your eyes. Long ago I was a given a tip on improving the attitude toward climbing. I was told that every time I approached a climb, start telling myself how much I loved to climb, and to keep repeating that for the length of the climb. It took a while, but eventually it made a difference, frankly a pretty significant difference.

    FWIW, 12-16% grades make for stiff climbs for experienced riders, so don't feel bad at all about struggling on that climb.
     
  7. rparedes

    rparedes New Member

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    What's your gearing set up?
    Around Atlanta there are some major hills/mountains; I started with a triple up front and a 32 cog on back, now I ride a compact (50/34) on front and 11/28 tooth cog on back but I almost never use the last cog anymore, now i can ride the VERY steep hills on the 25 tooth cog and the 28 is only my "bail-out" gear. The correct gearing can motivate you to get better at climbing.
     
  8. kausbose

    kausbose New Member

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    Now here's the question that no one has asked. I do not think that weight is an issue here. I think that yes, practice will make perfect. But also pay attention to your cadence. I think that is the most imp. thing while climbing. I would suffer on climbs initially because I would try to go up the same gear all through. Now don't get me wrong that's a good way to increase your capability. But for a beginner ride to the lowest chain ring and just keep on cranking up. If you have to stop, stop. Don't feel bad about it at all. When I began, I would stop at 2 mi on a 4% hill, so you are WAY better than I am. If you let me know what gear you are riding I might have more thoughts. Like that hill you are talking about right there will kick the air out of some people that consider themselves pros.

    For the people here saying that he needs to lose body weight. He already has 12% BF. He'll probably lose another 2% with exercise unless he is from Lance's gene pool where he can drop to 4% BF.

    Don't worry man just keep trotting on those pedals and in about two weeks of constant working out you will be on top of that hill. As someone said it here the hill will be your *****!!!
     
  9. jhuskey

    jhuskey Moderator

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    If he is 5'8" or so he can stand to lose weight from 170, body fat or not and it will not kill him and it is undisputed fact that dragging more weight up a hill takes more effort.
    As stated I was in a similar situation a few years back and know from experience. There is actually a chart I have somewhere that projects how much speed you gain per pound you lose.
     
  10. kausbose

    kausbose New Member

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    Agreed to what you say. But I am looking at immediate pointers to help him so that he doesn't get dissuaded by the climb and stop trying. I want him to keep going on the climb so that he may lose weight while trying to climb it. And if he gets up that climb with his weight now, he'll only get FASTER when he goes up it later on.
     
  11. leo1971

    leo1971 New Member

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    Hi,

    Thanks for the tips and encouragement.
    My road bike has a 50/34 and a 10 speed 11-25.
    I think I made a bad decision by buying the compact crankset instead of a triple.
    The model also comes with a 50/39/30 and 10 speed 12-27, but I would have to wait the store to order one,
    and the sales guy (for obvious reasons) told me the compact was much better :-(
    So, I try to climb the hill using really low gear 34 - 25.
    Do you think 30 - 27 available in the bikes with a triple cranckset would make a big difference?

    I (try to) climb this hill every day in my commute.
    I have already tried 8 times since I started commuting by bike.
    The best I managed to do was to stop only once.
    I will try to do it several times in the same day as some of you suggested.

    I also agree that attitude plays a big role.

    Cheers,
    Leo
     
  12. Chavez

    Chavez New Member

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    I tend to go with more of a "I am going to OWN this ****** - maybe not today or tomorrow, but SOON" mantra. And when you "own" a climb, you LOVE doing it.

    Potato, potatoe. Whichever works best for the individual rider.
     
  13. kausbose

    kausbose New Member

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    I think you are in the right gear choice. Because soon you will get MUCH MUCH fitter and you will be able to chomp that hill down twice for breakfast and once for dinner. So don't worry about the gearing now. Just crank up the largest rings on both front and back and pay attention to your cadence. That's all I can say. I know it's difficult to pay attention to it right now. But do post your progress here. That way it can be motivation for other riders. It's all in the mind my friend all in the mind. If you want to climb you will EFFING climb it!

    Having said that I really want to climb your hill now. I haven't encountered something that is 16% grade yet the toughest I have climbed is 14% and it whupped my a$$!
     
  14. kdelong

    kdelong Well-Known Member

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    Good advise all around but I think kausbose means use the smallest ring in front and the largest in back. I don't think that anyone here wants you cross chaining up that hill. Kausbose, if I am incorrect about what you mean, I apologize. It just doesn't seem to make sense cross chaining when higher or lower gearing is available without using both the large rings. FWIW, I want to ride that hill too.
     
  15. kausbose

    kausbose New Member

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    Absolutely correcto! My bad!! Small on front, largest on front and breathe deep and let the hill kill you for a couple of days till you ride to the top without stopping and scream at the top of your lungs, "Who's your daddy now?" :cool::D
     
  16. rparedes

    rparedes New Member

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    In spite of the fact that I agree with all motivation, training, etc others have mentioned, I still think you could benefit from better gearing and then as you improve can you change to smaller cassette/cogs. The easiest option is to try a 28 or 29 tooth cog. You can get a 28 or 29 tooth single cog from Sheldon's site (10 bucks i think), remove one of the mid cogs... say 3rd or 4th position in you current cassette, add the new cog as the last cog (right after the 25 tooth) and try it; it should help. You even add two cogs... say a 28 and a 30 or 32 (by removing two intermediate cogs). I've run a 32 tooth on a short cage RD (for North Ga mountains; Six Gap) you just have to adjust the B tension screw to allow the maximum space for the guide pulley. There are several older threads on customizing cassettes. Hope it helps...
     
  17. oldbobcat

    oldbobcat Well-Known Member

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    You need to buy an ascent road bike. Descent bikes only want to go down the hills.

    But seriously, you're a young guy and with time and a good attitude you should be able to chomp any 16% hill with a 34/25. If you do want to spend some money getting to that point, though, a 12-27 cassette wouldn't hurt.

    But don't bother with the triple. You'll be way past that before you finish paying for it.
     
  18. teamgomez

    teamgomez New Member

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    Just keep strokin', Leo. In very short order, you'll see a difference. I live on the top of a 275' altitue/10-18% grade and this made for my RTB in the evenings a real PITA (when I move, I'm sending the wife to the bottom of this damned hill to load the bike and going out net-hill-positive!). After a year (and some hill work on a different 1.27 mile/16% route), I don't even notice the hill...(ok, maybe a little).

    Attitude is everything- let's hear about the day you make it! Keeps us all motivated-

    ~John
     
  19. hod65

    hod65 New Member

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    this might sound odd bit i find if you let your mind drift off the hill for a bit while climbing your legs will keep going anyway .i try not to think to much about what im doing if im suffering on ahill before you know it your almost at the top..:)
     
  20. quenya

    quenya New Member

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    I'm not sure how new to this sport you are, but consistency is going to trump weight. At 12% bodyfat you're pretty lean, I'm not sure where you carry your muscle if, like me, you have a lot of your muscle in the butt and thighs losing weight would be less of a worry if OTOH you have big back chest or shoulder muscles it might be worth your while to lose a few lbs. Cycling performance is really all about 'energy production' and for most cycling applications that means oxygen delivery and economy. Consistent training causes your body to produce new blood vessles to fuel each muscle cell, increasing the fuel supply, and physiologic changes make you require less oxygen for muscle contraction. So, to answer your question, yes losing ten pounds will make climbing less difficult, or if you'd rather faster. If you lose the weight through training though, then gain back the weight without interrupting your riding you'll still be able to conquer the hill.

    Our local hills are pretty crazy, the worst is Big Creek which gains 2000 feet in 2.5 mi with grades up to 20%, also notable is Tollhouse a 7+mile climb that averages 8-9% but has very steep sections (~15%) at the beginning and end.

    My uncle and frequent riding buddy is 5'9" and carries up to 205 lbs. has ridden the climb to kaiser.
     
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